close
Advertisement
Can't connect right now! retry

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!
January 25, 2021

No-confidence motion: Two major PDM components unimpressed with PPP’s idea

Top Story

January 25, 2021

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan People’s Party’s (PPP’s) proposal to go for a no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Imran Khan rather than opting for other options to oust him has never elicited a favourable response from the two other main components of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM).

The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) have always opposed the idea during different PDM meetings, terming it unfeasible, unachievable and a non-starter, a senior leader of the multi-party opposition alliance told The News. “The proposal has come under discussion during PDM deliberations more than once, and every time the PPP emphasised its importance while the PML-N and JUI-F did not buy it,” he said.

PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari has now publicly called upon the opposition parties to table a no-confidence motion against the prime minister. “Such a move will be much more effective than the PDM rallies. The public meetings and rallies will not yield the kind of results as a strategy meeting over a cup of tea. That is sure to cause the government to worry. I will speak to the opposition parties to strike this way… the democratic way to send this incompetent, illegal, unqualified prime minister is through a no-confidence motion.”

During one such discussion within the PDM, the source said, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif had stated that if, despite having a clear majority in the Senate, the opposition had failed to dislodge its chairman for reasons known to all and sundry, how could it be successful in the present environment when the alliance didn’t even have majority in the National Assembly.

It is not only the PML-N supremo but JUI-F and PDM chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman is also sceptical of the no-confidence option. He has also consistently described the PPP’s idea as a non-starter. The JUI-F has been stressing a decisive hit like a long march and the resignations of PDM lawmakers from the assemblies to force the government out of power.

The senior opposition leader and source, meanwhile, believed that the PPP has been convinced by ‘certain elements’ that whatever the PDM wants to do to get rid of the government, it should do within the assemblies and should not work towards rocking the boat. These elements, he said, did not want the assemblies to be packed up. He said that it had been regularly pointed out to the PPP during the PDM consultations that the expected failure of a no-trust motion could backfire and strengthen the government. In such an eventuality, the opposition would stand weakened, it had been explained.

As per the Constitution and rules, it would be the responsibility of the sponsors of the no-confidence resolution to show a simple majority in the assembly for its success. The source said the opposition’s efforts can be easily foiled by the government by using state machinery. Never in Pakistan’s history has any such motion succeeded due to the use of coercive measures at the disposal of the government.

He recalled that a soothsayer — who also used to be the speechwriter of Nawaz Sharif —had predicted at the time of the no-trust motion against Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in 1989 that it would be carried through. But when the move failed, the astrologer had argued that some disruption had taken place in his ‘diagram’ of assessment because of the movement of some elements. Before that, this sage was so confident of the success of his prediction that he had even written the speech of Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi that he was to deliver as the prime minister after the incumbent had been voted out.

The source surmised that the PPP perhaps wants to test the waters through the no-trust resolution and desires to know how far Imran Khan still enjoys the support of his party, allies and others.

If Pakistan’s past is any guide, no no-confidence motion against any prime minister has ever succeeded. However, such a move had been an unnerving one for the premier as he or she had to struggle to keep their MPs as a solid block to abstain from voting. With unprecedented difficulty, Benazir Bhutto had frustrated the no-trust resolution, sponsored against her by the then Nawaz Sharif-led opposition, during her first tenure as prime minister. Nearly four lawmakers backing her, who had assured their support to the motion, had changed their mind at the last minute. “Who knows the same could happen this time as well,” the opposition leader said.

The Constitution and Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the National Assembly spell out the mechanism for voting on the no-confidence motion against the prime minister. Under Article 95, a no-trust resolution moved by not less than 20 percent of the total membership of the National Assembly may be passed against the premier by the National Assembly. It will not be voted upon before the expiration of three days, or later than seven days, from the day on which it is moved. It will not be moved in the assembly while it is considering the federal budget. If it is passed by a majority of the total membership, the premier will cease to hold office.

As per the numerical scenario, the PPP has 55 members in the National Assembly, which is not enough to even move the no-confidence motion. At least, 69 MNAs (20pc) will be required to table such a resolution. On the other hand, the PML-N has 83 MNAs.

In the period between the preparation and moving of the motion and voting on it, the government has a lot of time to manoeuvre and take steps to defeat it by persuading the suspected defectors from its own party or allies to go back on their intended intentions.