Deputy speaker dismisses no-trust motion against Imran, terms it against Article 5

Suri said the resolution could not be voted upon as it was allegedly supported by a foreign power and violated Article 5. Suri, who chaired the session in the absence of Asad Qaiser, also adjourned the session indefinitely.

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Islamabad: National Assembly Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri on Sunday dismissed the no-confidence motion submitted by the joint opposition to dislodge the prime minister as he termed it “unconstitutional” under Article 5.

The ruling read by Suri prompted strong protests from the opposition benches who surrounded the desk of the speaker to record their protest.

Suri said the resolution could not be voted upon as it was allegedly supported by a foreign power and violated Article 5. Suri, who chaired the session in the absence of Asad Qaiser, also adjourned the session indefinitely.

As the session started, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry addressed the assembly and termed the no-confidence motion a “foreign conspiracy” to change the regime in Pakistan

Fawad said the no-confidence motion tabled under Article 95 was a “democratic right” in ordinary circumstances. Quoting Article 5, Fawad said loyalty to the state was the duty of every citizen.

The information minister said that on March 7, a Pakistani envoy posted in a foreign country attended an official meeting in which it was said that a no-confidence motion would be filed against Imran. He claimed, “We were told that the relationship [of the foreign power] with Pakistan depended on the outcome of the no-confidence motion.

It was also said that everything would be forgiven if the no-trust vote succeeded, he claimed, adding that Pakistan was told things would become difficult if the motion failed.

“Unfortunately, attempts are being made to change the regime at the behest of external forces,” he claimed. According to Fawad, that was not a matter of the no-confidence motion but an issue pertaining to Article 5-A. He added, “Is the state of 220 million so weak that external forces sit here and change the governments.”

“Can a regime be changed…are the people of Pakistan puppets, do we have no status…are we slaves,” he asked. He urged the speaker to give a ruling on Article 5-A

His address resulted in a hurriedly read ruling from Suri who declared the motion against the premier “unconstitutional” which resulted in strong backlash from the opposition.

In a talk with the media, PPP Chairperson Bilawal said the deputy speaker committed an ‘unconstitutional act’ by dismissing the no-trust motion against Imran. The PPP said the joint opposition has decided to stage a sit-in in the National Assembly till the acceptance of their constitutional demand — voting on the no-confidence motion.

Bilawal said the premier will have to face the no-confidence motion as he could not run away from it.

The opposition lawyers have left for the Supreme Court to seek its intervention over the violation of the Constitution that has left Imran exposed.

Bilawal said the Supreme Court should play its role in upholding the Constitution and ensure voting on the motion is held today.

Lawmakers from the joint opposition continued sitting in the assembly after the no-trust motion’s dismissal and conducted a mock session of parliament.

In a symbolic move, PML-N leader Ayaz Sadiq took the chair of the speaker as the opposition members remained in the hall. The lights of the hall were switched off but were restored after a few minutes.

Following the count, Sadiq announced that 197 members were present in the lower house and had voted in favour of the move.

The opposition parties’ symbolic move was aimed at countering the move by the treasury benches to hurriedly leave the session after the deputy speaker gave the ruling rejecting the opposition parties’ no-trust motion against the Prime Minister and prorogued the National Assembly session.

Earlier, the opposition leaders, including PPP Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari and PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif, arrived in the house along with other lawmakers.

After his arrival, PPP chief Zardari as an act of goodwill visited the benches of the government and shook hands with the ministers present. Zardari also went to the chair of NA Opposition Leader Shehbaz Sharif to greet him.

The opposition is in a comfortable position to remove PM Imran through a vote of no-confidence as it enjoys the support of at least 176 members, including two members of the PML-Q, in the lower house.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan chaired a meeting at the Prime Minister’s House. He held consultations with his close aides before the vote and would likely arrive in the house in some time. Currently, only 22 PTI MNAs were present in the NA hall.

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