Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday met the National Assembly members from the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) as well as the coalition partners a day ahead of the crucial vote of the confidence in the lower house of parliament.
Imran Khan chaired a meeting of the PTI parliamentary party, which was also attended by the National Assembly members from allied parties. Earlier, Imran held a separate meeting with a delegation of another coalition partner, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P).
Imran is seeking a vote of confidence in the National Assembly on Saturday (today). The move came after the ruling party candidate Hafeez Shaikh lost to opposition’s Yusuf Raza Gilani in a high-stake contest on a Senate seat on March 3.
Chairing the parliamentary party meeting, the prime minister said that 16 treasury members sold themselves for money in the Senate elections he advised the lawmakers they were free to decide on the call of the conscience but added selling vote for money was not advisable.
According to sources, the prime minister took the lawmakers into confidence over his decision to take a vote of confidence, saying that those who did not trust him should express themselves openly. “I believe in democracy and freedom of speech, and no one can blackmail me,” he added.
In his candid and straightforward speech to the parliamentarian, Imran said that he was a person who kept his feet on the ground despite winning and if he could not get the vote of confidence, he would sit in the opposition.
Emphasising honesty, the prime minister told the lawmakers: “You have been sent to the House by the people who entrusted you with the vote. You decide on the call of the conscience [but] it is unwise to vote for money. Frankly speaking, 16 of our members sold themselves for money.”
“I have started politics with a purpose. I don’t have Changa Manga. I can’t even take you to Murree,” he said, asking the members to speak openly if any one did not trust him. “So, if I’m wrong in your eyes, of course you can leave me,” he said.
During the meeting the prime minister came down very harshly on the opposition parties. “If you look at them closely, all these people in the opposition look like traitors,” the prime minister told the meeting. “I will not spare them [the opposition].”
Most of the treasury benches lawmakers were present in the parliamentary party meeting. However, conspicuous for their absence were Monis Elahi, Dr Aamir Liaqat, Ghulam Bibi Bharwana and Basit Bukhari.
On the occasion, Defence Minister Pervez Khattak briefed the members on the rules of the vote of confidence. According to the rules, Khattak said a person who votes against the party line could be de-seated.
Addressing the prime minister, Khattak said that all these “people are here today because they stand by your ideology,” adding: “We trusted your every decision before and we will continue to be your strength and support.”
Expressing reservations on behalf of the Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) in the meeting, Dr Fehmida Mirza said that some PTI members in Sindh assembly did not vote for “our Senate candidate as promised” and urged the prime minister to investigate the matter.
“We will take action against our people who sold voted against us in Sindh,” the prime minister told the lawmaker from the GDA. Mirza, also a federal minister, assured the prime minister that despite these reservations, “we trust you and we stand by you”.
During the meeting, emotional scenes were witnessed. PTI members chanted slogans in favour of the prime minister. Shahid Khattak and Imran Khattak from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa asked the prime minister to stay firm on his mission.
Earlier, during a separate meeting, the MQM-P delegation reposed full confidence in Prime Minister Imran Khan. The MQM leadership said the party has some reservations about the existing system of governance but still it stood by the prime minister.
According to Express News, the MQM delegation was led by Convener Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui and included Aminul Haq, Kishwar Zahra and others. Federal ministers Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Shafqat Mehmood, Asad Umar and Pervez Khattak were also present in the meeting.
Quoting its sources, Express News reported that the MQM leadership told the prime minister that they wanted a change in the system so that they could deliver to the people. They added that they did not have any demand except that they are included in the consultation on Karachi and Sindh.
According to the sources, the report said, the prime minister directed for consulting the MQM on matter related to Sindh. “I am striving for a change in the system, the struggle will continue to ensure transparency in the institutions.”
Letter to MNAs
Meanwhile, the prime minister, who is also Chairman of the PTI, has written a letter to all the party lawmakers to ensure their presence in the assembly for the vote of confidence, warning disqualification proceedings could be initiated against any member not participate in the voting.
In the letter, the prime minister informed the members about the voting rules. The letter said that the doors of the assembly hall and chamber would be closed after 12:15 pm and then no member would be allowed to enter the assembly hall.
As per the party’s directive, the letter directed that all members must ensure attendance for the vote of confidence. In case of non-attendance, disqualification proceedings will be initiated against the member, it added.
Action will be taken against the absent member under Article 63 of the Constitution, said the letter, signed by the prime minister. It added that declaration could be submitted to the Election Commission in case of violation of the party directive.
NA session today
The National Assembly will convene at noon on Saturday (today) during which Prime Minster Imran will take a vote of confidence. The resolution for the vote would be moved by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, according to the Order of the Day, issue by the National Assembly Secretariat.
“That this House reposes confidence in the Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Mr. Imran Khan, as required under clause (7) of Article 91 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan,” said the text of the resolution released on Friday.
The procedure for the vote of confidence by prime minister has been defined in the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in National Assembly 2007 which states to record the voting procedure set out in the Second Schedule.
The Rule 36 of the Rules of Procedure says: “Whenever the Prime Minister has to obtain a vote of confidence under clause (7) of Article 91, voting shall be recorded in accordance with the procedure set out in the Second Schedule.
The Second Schedule about procedure for recording of votes states that before voting commences, the National Assembly speaker shall direct that the bells be rung for five minutes to enable members not present in the chamber to be present.
Immediately after the bells stop ringing, all the entrances to the lobby shall be locked and the assembly staff posted at each entrance shall not allow any entry or exit through those entrances until the voting has concluded.
The speaker shall then read out the resolution before the assembly and ask the members who wish to vote in favour of the resolution to pass in single file through the entrance where tellers shall be posted to record the votes.
On reaching the desk of the tellers, each member shall, in turn, call out the division number allotted to him under the rules. The tellers shall then mark off his number on the division list simultaneously calling out the name of the member.
In order to ensure that his vote has been properly recorded, the member shall not move off until he has clearly heard the teller call out his name. After a member has recorded his vote, he shall not return to the chamber until bells are rung.
When the speaker finds that all the members who wished to vote have recorded their votes, he shall announce that the voting has concluded. Thereupon the secretary shall cause the division list to be collected, count the recorded votes and present the result of the count to the speaker.
The Speaker shall then direct that the bells be rung for two minutes to enable the members to return to the chamber. After the bells stop ringing, the speaker shall announce the result to the assembly.
The session has been convened by the president under the clause (7) of Article 91 of the Constitution, which states that the prime minister shall hold the office during the pleasure of the president, but the president shall not exercise his powers under this clause unless he is satisfied that the prime minister does not command the confidence of the majority of the members of the National Assembly, in which case he shall summon the National Assembly and require the prime minister to obtain a vote of confidence from the assembly.
(With input from APP)