Opposition submits no-trust motion against Imran

ISLAMABAD: Members of the opposition in the National Assembly on Tuesday submitted a no-confidence motion against the prime minister.

Officials of the National Assembly Secretariat confirmed that opposition members had submitted the motion.

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Information Secretary Marriyum Aurangzeb said National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser was not present in his office which is why the document was submitted with the secretariat.

The confirmation from Aurangzeb came after a delegation of opposition MPs, including Rana Sanaullah Khan, Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, Marriyum Aurangzeb, and Shazia Marri had reached Parliament House in Islamabad.

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) MP Syed Naveed Qamar said the motion, which calls for the requisition of a National Assembly session, had signatures of more than 100 MPs. The rules of business state that in order for a session to be requisitioned to vote on a no-confidence motion, signatures from at least 68 MPs are required.

The three parties — PML-N, PPP and the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA), a union of far-right parties including Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) — combined have 154 seats in the National Assembly. Overall, the ruling coalition is supported by 176 MPs whereas the opposition enjoys the backing of 162 legislators.

In order to make the no-confidence motion successful, the opposition requires the support of 172 MPs.

After the filing of the motion, Speaker Qaiser has between three to seven days to summon a session of the House to conduct voting.

The opposition parties, seeking to oust Imran Khan, decided to move the no-confidence vote during a meeting of the PML-N parliamentary party on Monday. The decision was made by party president Shahbaz Sharif.

The participants of the meeting were also directed to remain in Islamabad for at least three weeks, it said. The MPs were warned their absence during the motion “won’t be tolerated”.

Since its inception in September 2020, at the peak of the coronavirus crisis, the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), a coalition of 11 political parties, has been staging public rallies across the country to ramp up pressure on the government of Imran Khan.

In February, PDM president Fazlur Rehman announced the opposition alliance has decided to move the motion against Khan and would contact the government’s allies in the Centre for this purpose.

“All component parties in the PDM have agreed on bringing a no-confidence motion against these illegitimate rulers and contacting the government’s allies in this regard,” he had said.

Some political observers also believe the opposition is optimistic that a change in the US presidency in January 2021, with Joe Biden replacing President Donald Trump, could benefit their cause.

Democrats, historically, have backed civilian supremacy in Pakistan. But regardless of who sits in the White House, the political situation in Pakistan is likely to remain volatile and unstable.

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