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Majority in National Assembly is Not Needed to Rule the Country

By Agha Iqrar Haroon

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Islamabad, Pakistan: The Democracy in Parliamentary System moves around and works through the Senate (Upper House) and the National Assembly (Lower House), and these two core institutions are run by the Chairman Senate and the Speaker of National Assembly.

The Constitution as well as Rules of Business provide immense powers to the custodians of Houses—The Chairman of the Senate and the Speaker of National Assembly. The state of affairs Pakistan going through nowadays has reaffirmed that there is a dire need to review the constitutional and legal powers delegated to custodians of the House and democracy in Pakistan is facing the same situation that it faced in the year 2007 but our politicians learned nothing out of that.

We remember that former Speaker National Assembly Chaudhry Amir Hussain (in office during 2002-2008) served the former President Gen Musharaf and compromised the chamber of the Speaker several times for pleasing the then President Gen Musharraf. We remember Hussain gave a historic ruling that resignations of 85 Pakistani opposition lawmakers would not affect the Presidential Election and he helped General Musharraf to reelect against rules. His conduct raised serious questions over the powers delegated to the Speaker and politicians promised for reviewing the powers of the Speaker but no political government gave attention to the issue thereafter and now the opposition is crying over the alleged biased conduct of the Speaker.

The Parliamentary system indicates that Prime Minister Imran Khan has practically lost the majority in the House after 13 plus members of his party have surely decided to vote against the party in Vote of No-confidence moved by the Opposition but technically PM Khan will remain Prime Minister unless the session of National Assembly is not called and unless he is not voted out or unless government fails to show a majority in the House. Therefore, it is evident that the Speaker National Assembly who is not calling the session of the House is providing a lifeline to Prime Minister Imran Khan. This lifeline would surely provide ample opportunities to Prime Minister Khan to solve his legal as well as political issues if he has the skills to do so. Since he came in power, his political, as well as administrative issues, had been managed by several friends like Jahangir Tareen and others and this is the first political crisis he is facing and dealing with directly. Former Chief Minister Punjab and the leader of PML (Q) Ch Pervaiz Ellahi in one of his recent interviews claimed that Imran’s friends had been doing his babysitting, changing his nappies, and not letting him learn how to walk without support.   Since his friends are no more around him, he is facing a tough time and is reacting with more aggression than ever and his aggression was shown in his public meetings.

The government alliance has 179 votes while 172 is a must majority number for a govt. Minus 13 dissidents, the number of government members stands at 166 while the government needs 172 to keep the majority in the House.

PTI circles are of the view that the Speaker will call the session on the last day of 14 days from the date of submission of requisition by the Opposition for calling session for the No Confidence motion. Then PTI will move to the Supreme Court to get advice over the issue of dissidents and will also seek Stay Order over the voting day. The hearing of Reference may continue for a week or two therefore the PTI would get more than 15 days. PTI circles say that by gaining one month after requisition of No Confidence motion and exposure of members who are not with PTI would be enough time for Prime Minister Imran Khan to resolve his differences with PTI members of the National Assembly as well as with allied parties like MQM Pakistan, PML (Q) and others.

Circles close to PTI leadership are of the view that PTI has decided to move Supreme Court to seek advice to de-seat dissident members before voting day and Advocate General of Pakistan has been advised by the Prime Minister Imran Khan to move to Supreme Court with a request for a larger bench to explain Article 63-A (b) that deals with floor-crossing. The Article 63A indicates:

Disqualification on grounds of defection, etc.

(1)   If a member of a Parliamentary Party composed of a single political party in a House-

(a)   resigns from membership of his political party or joins another Parliamentary Party; or

(b)   votes or abstains from voting in the House contrary to any direction issued by the Parliamentary Party to which he belongs, in relations to-

(i)    election of the Prime Minister or the Chief Minister; or

(ii)   a vote of confidence or a vote of no-confidence; or

(iii) a Money Bill or a Constitution (Amendment) Bill;

he may be declared in writing by the Party Head to have defected from the political party, and the Head of the Parliamentary Party may forward a copy of the declaration to the Presiding Officer, and shall similarly forward a copy thereof to the member concerned:

Provided that before making the declaration, the Party Head shall provide such member with an opportunity to show cause as to why such declaration may not be made against him.

Article 63-A (b) clearly says that first the member shall commit floor crossing and then party Head will take action against her/him and will also serve notice to him/her but PTI wants to use his Speaker to de-seat every member of PTI that would vote in No-Confidence Motion against Prime Minister. In simple words, PTI Speaker wants to penalize the member before he/she breaks the rule.

PTI circles are of the view that Prime Minister Imran Khan has already accepted the advice of Chief of Army Staff Gen Bajwa and is not abusing politicians and opponents in public rallies and this change in his behavior would help Prime Minister Khan to mend his walls with dissidents and allied parties. Meanwhile, the visit of the Army Chief to the Bani gala on Friday and their meeting is also taken as a positive development by PTI circles and they shared the news with the media about their meeting.

On the other hand, the publication of an investigative story that appeared on March 18 in an investigative journalism House “Fact Focus” titled “Ferozwala Files: Imran remained untouched despite repeated misdeclaration of assets” can be an attempt to defame Prime Minister Khan and PTI circles call the story a bundle of lies and allegations.

Prime Minister Khan who has surely lost his majority in National Assembly can surely gain his position in the forthcoming two weeks’ time and any prediction about his fate could become categorically contrary to what is going to have happened in the future.  There is no doubt his fate hangs in balance but he has the Speaker at his side and this reality is consolidating his situation. Moreover, the eyes of the nation would be on the Supreme Court of Pakistan once government-sponsored Reference would land in the Court.

I always believe that nothing is Impossible in Pakistani politics and any move from politicians can lick dust if God helps Prime Minister Imran Khan who is trying hard to make Pakistan a Riasat-e-Madina —-a kind of a country where powerful and powerless are given the same respect and opportunities to live with grace.

Disclaimer:

The views and opinions expressed in this article/Opinion/Comment are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the DND Thought Center and Dispatch News Desk (DND). Assumptions made within the analysis are not reflective of the position of the DND Thought Center and Dispatch News Desk News Agency.

Central Desk
Central Desk
Central News Desk.

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