Islamabad: Pakistan’s National Assembly session was on Thursday adjourned abruptly till Sunday after opposition lawmakers demanded an immediate vote on a no-confidence motion against embattled Prime Minister Imran Khan who has effectively lost majority in the lower house.
As soon as the National Assembly session began at the Parliament House, Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri opened the floor for questions.
However, opposition lawmakers demanded an immediate vote on the no-confidence motion amid chants of “go Imran go”.
Suri termed the opposition’s attitude “non-serious” and adjourned the session till 11:30 am Sunday when the vote on the no-confidence motion is expected to take place.
The deputy speaker also announced that the meeting of the parliamentary committee would be held in Committee Room No 2.
Earlier, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister Babar Awan moved a motion to adjourn the session so the assembly hall could be used for the Parliamentary Committee on National Security’s meeting. The motion was rejected after voting.
The resolution against the embattled premier was tabled by the Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif on March 28 and it was approved for debate the very same day.
The assembly secretariat had issued a 24-point agenda for Thursday’s session and the no-confidence motion was fourth on the agenda.
Sharif had tabled the motion under Article A-95 of the Constitution, and it had 161 members as signatories.
While tabling the motion, Sharif had said he was presenting the no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Khan.
Prime Minister Khan also chaired a meeting of the National Security Committee (NSC) – the highest forum for coordination on security issues – at the Prime Minister’s House on Thursday.
The meeting comes a day after Khan shared some content of a letter – purportedly showing evidence of a foreign conspiracy to oust his government – with his cabinet members and a selected group of journalists.
Khan waved the purported letter at a public rally on March 27 and claimed that a foreign conspiracy was afoot to remove him from power, touting the Opposition’s no-confidence move against him as a testimony of foreign funded move to topple his government.
Several Opposition leaders had asked Khan to divulge the details of the letter while denouncing it as an effort to divert pressure and hold on to power.
Meanwhile, a highly placed source in the federal government told PTI on Thursday that backdoor talks between the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government and the joint opposition are underway on the issue of no-confidence motion against Khan.
“Talks are focused on one-point – the joint opposition withdraws the no-trust motion against Khan and in return he dissolves the National Assembly calling for fresh elections,” the source said.
“The top man in the establishment may be a guarantor if the understanding (deal) between the opposition and the government reaches, he added.
“If this deal is cut, the new elections will be held in August this year,” he said, adding that since the opposition is not trusting Khan, the guarantor may ally its concerns.
The development comes a day after Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry on Wednesday confirmed that Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa and Prime Minister Khan met twice during the day.
The powerful army, which has ruled Pakistan for more than half of its 73 plus years of existence, has hitherto wielded considerable power in the matters of security and foreign policy.
The position of the opposition parties has strengthened after two main allies of the government, including Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and Balochistan Awami Party (BAP), joined the front against the government.
The government lost its majority after the allies ditched it and pressure is mounting on the cricketer-turned-politician.
Khan’s ministers, however, have said that he would fight until the last ball of the last over .
Khan needs 172 votes in the lower house of 342 to foil the Opposition’s bid to topple him. However, Maulana Fazlur Rehman, chief of Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam Fazl (JUI-F), said that the Opposition has the support of 175 lawmakers and the prime minister should resign.
No Pakistani prime minister has ever completed a full five-year term in office. Also, no prime minister in Pakistan’s history has ever been ousted through a no-confidence motion, and Khan is the third premier to face the challenge.
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Khan strictly directed his party lawmakers to either abstain or not attend the National Assembly session on the day of voting on the no-confidence motion against him, which is likely to be held in the first week of April.
Khan came to power in 2018 with promises to create a Naya Pakistan’ but miserably failed to address the basic problem of keeping the prices of commodities in control, giving air to the sails of opposition ships to make war on his government.
His chances of survival are getting slimmer and the easiest way to end the uncertainty is to get back the support of all allies and win back dissidents within his own party.