The treasury benches in the Punjab Assembly passed the no-confidence motion against Deputy Speaker Dost Muhammad Mazari in the wee hours of Saturday, hours after electing Sibtain Khan of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) as the new speaker.
Sibtain Khan was elected speaker in place of Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, who was elected the chief minister of the province, following a Supreme Court judgment earlier this week that annulled the former deputy speaker’s ruling in favour of Elahi’s rival Hamza Shehbaz of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).
Sibtain Khan was polled 185 votes of the lawmakers from the PTI, the PML-Quaid and other allies. His rival PML-N’s Saiful Malook Khokhar obtained 175 votes – three short of the opposition’s total strength of 178 in the provincial legislature.
Inside the house, the atmosphere was tense. The PML-N challenged the credibility of the contest, raising objection to the serial number printed on counter foil of the ballot paper, which meant that the voter could be traced. They termed it illegal and against the norms of democracy.
The PML-N lawmaker noticed the serial number after they had cast their 30-40% votes. "This method has never been adopted in the past but the PTI has done it,” a PML-N lawmaker protested in the house. “This is against the norms of democracy," the lawmaker added.
The PML-N lawmakers approached the staffer of the assembly secretariat, who was issuing the ballot papers. At one stage, Khokhar snatched the ballot paper book from a member of the polling staff and threw it towards his party’s members.
The security was summoned by the panel of chairmen Waseem Khan Badozai. After a short while, the ballot paper book was returned but it transpired that four ballot papers were missing. Khan submitted an application to Badozai, expressing doubt that the missing ballot papers could be used against him.
The voting remained suspended for some time, but later it resumed and the PML-N did not stop it. Former chief minister Hamza Shehbaz was the first to enter the house, when he was told about the issue but he left the house after casting his vote.
The house reverberated with the slogans of "Lotta " [turncoat] when Deputy Speaker Mazari entered the house. PTI's lawmakers tried to get close to him but their senior leadership stopped them. Some PTI lawmakers even used abusive language against him. After casting his vote Mazari left the House.
Chief Minister Elahi was present in the house during the voting process, while the former chief minister Usman Buzdar of the PTI seated next to him. Senior PTI leaders Asad Umar, Ali Ameen Gandapur, Shafqat Mehmood and others were also present in the gallery.
The polling had started on 5:35pm – over one-and-half-hours late. The vote count started at 8:40pm and at 10:15pm the results were announced. Sibtain Khan obtained 185 votes from the treasury’s strength of 186, while Khokhar secured 175 vote out of the opposition’s total 178. Four votes were rejected – three of the PML-N and one of the PTI.
Badozai then administered the oath to Sibtain Khan. After taking speaker’s chair, Sibtain Khan thanked his voters and the party leadership. “Now, the house will be protected and I will not let it be disgraced as we saw in past,” he said.
Later, Sibtain Khan presided over the proceedings of the no-confidence motion against Mazari. The treasury showed one-fourth of its total strength – 93 members – to present the no-confidence motion against the deputy speaker.
Former law minister Raja Basharat presented the motion against Mazari, which was carried out. Afterwards secret balloting started. But this time a little number of PML-N lawmakers was present in the house to check whether or not the PTI would be able to cast all of its 186 votes.
Eventually, the PTI cast the votes in its full strength, with 186 lawmakers reposing no confidence in Mazari, Speaker Sibtain Khan announced that the motion was successful. The speaker then adjourned the house till at 1pm Sunday for the election of a new deputy speaker.
The PML-N lawmakers said this had never been occurred before that the serial number were printed on the counter foil. They said it is tantamount to kill the democratic norms and that the PML-N would challenge this process in the court of law.
“Today it is the day of real democracy,” a PTI lawmaker said after the session. “Today, there is the victory of democracy, while the politics of “lotacracy” has been buried,” the lawmaker added. The treasury members said that the dignity of the house would be protected.
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