Sunday, April 10, 2022
ISLAMABAD: In a historic first for Pakistan, Imran Khan has been ousted as the prime minister of Pakistan from office through a no-confidence motion after the National Assembly debated on the matter for more than 12 hours and the political situation in the country took a critical turn.
The session was chaired by Ayaz Sadiq — a member of the panel of chairs — after speaker Asad Qasier resigned from his post.
"174 members have recorded their votes in favour of the resolution, consequently the resolution for the vote on no-confidence against Mr Imran Khan, the prime minister of Pakistan, has been passed by a majority," Ayaz Sadiq announced after the process of voting was completed.
Once the voting was concluded and the result was announced, Opposition leaders delivered their victory speeches. The session has been adjourned till 2pm on Monday, April 11.
Speaking on the occasion, PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif said the country was witnessing a new day and thanked all the joint Opposition leaders for their efforts in uniting the parties against the government.
"We cannot thank Allah enough for allowing us to see this new day," said Shahbaz. "We thank everyone for their sacrifices, and now, once again, a Pakistan based on Constitution and law is about to come into existence," the PML-N president said, hoping that the alliance would move the country towards progress.
Shahbaz said this might be the first time in Pakistan that the country's daughters and sisters were sent to prison, but maintained that he wanted to forget the past and move forward.
"When the time comes, we will speak in detail, but we want to heal the wounds of the nation; we will not send innocent people to jails, and we will not take revenge," Shabaz said, noting that the law will take its course without interference.
"Neither I, nor Bilawal, nor will Maulana Fazlur Rehman interfere. Law will be upheld and we will respect the judiciary," Shahbaz said, thanking Sadiq for chairing the historic session.
"Jab apna qafla azm o yakeen se niklay ga, jahan se chahen ge rasta wohi se niklay ga, watan ki mitti airian ragrne day, mujhe yaqeen hai chashman yaheen se niklayga," Shahbaz concluded.
"I would like to congratulate the whole nation and this House, as for the first time in the history of the country, a no-confidence motion has succeeded and we have made history," said Bilawal.
Speaking on the occasion, the PPP chairman recalled what had happened on April 10, adding that on this day, the country approved the 1973 Constitution.
"On April 10, 1986, Benazir Bhutto ended her self-imposed exile and arrived in Lahore to launch her struggle against Ziaul haq," said Bilawal.
The PPP chairman said that on April 10, 2022, the person who was declared "selected” by the Opposition and proved himself to be an “undemocratic burden” on the country saw the end of his rule.
“Today [on] April 20, 2022, we welcome [you] back to the purana Pakistan,” said Bilawal.
The lawmaker from Larkana said that he had joined the National Assembly only three to four years ago, adding that whatever he has learned during this time is probably more than he had learnt throughout his life.
“I have a message for the Pakistani youth that they should never give up on their dreams as nothing is impossible. Democracy is the best revenge. Pakistan Zindabad,” said Bilawal.
MQM Convener Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui said this occasion is not merely to celebrate “but show gratefulness as this time is more of a test than a reward.”
He hoped that the alliance between the joint Opposition and the change of regime does not convert into a change of behaviour of the Opposition leaders.
Siddiqui said that it is now the responsibility of the Parliament to move forward and reinstate the confidence that the leaders have received after the success of the no-confidence motion to the people of Pakistan.
“We neither want Naya Pakistan nor do we want Purana Pakistan, we want a better Pakistan,” the MQM-P leader reiterated.
Taking some credit, Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) leader Khalid Hussain Magsi said he is glad to be a part of the democratic movement.
He boasted that the party contributed “significant” four votes to the 170 figure, which helped the joint Opposition complete their total number of 172 members needed to oust Imran Khan.
ٖFor his part, JUI-F's parliamentary leader Maulana Asad Mahmood congratulated the country's political and democratic powers who struggled for prevailing "real democracy" in Pakistan.
"We will not let this struggle go into vain," he added.
Earlier, as soon as Qasier announced his resignation from office, most of the treasury members stood up and exited the House — but only Ali Muhammad Khan remained in the Parliament — giving the Opposition in the National Assembly a clear majority in the motion even before a vote was cast.
Speaking on the occasion, he congratulated the Opposition but went on to laud the struggles of Imran Khan and said that he was proud that the person he was still supporting — Imran Khan — decided to give up power, but refused to be enslaved.
"Your faces (Opposition members) might be reflecting happiness and may Allah keep it that way [...] my duty as the minister for parliamentary affairs has finally ended," Khan said.
Khan questioned what sort of a "Jewish agent" was Imran Khan that "America left no stone unturned to remove him from power", as he took a jibe at PDM chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman — who calls the ex-premier a "Jewish agent".
Khan vowed that Imran Khan would come back with a majority as he told the Opposition to hold their horses.
The PTI leader said everyone needs to join hands to move and help Pakistan progress, but his party was not ready to follow the ways of the Opposition.
"Imran Khan gathered OIC members two times in two months; Imran Khan's fault was that he talked about forming a Muslim bloc; Imran Khan's fault was that he talked about an independent foreign policy. I often say that Russia is just an excuse and Imran Khan is the real target," he claimed.
At about 11:30pm, former National Assembly speaker Asad Qaiser announced that he has resigned from his post and asked PML-N leader Ayaz Sadiq to take over his seat to hold a vote on the no-confidence motion.
Hours before the Supreme Court’s deadline for the vote of no-confidence motion was to expire, Qaiser took hold of his seat and chaired the session.
“I am liable to the Constitution and the most important demand of the oath is to protect the sovereignty and integrity of Pakistan,” said Qaiser.
The former speaker said that the Cabinet has shared the alleged “threat letter” with him and asked the lawmakers to stand for the country’s sovereignty.
Qaiser asked PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif to review the letter and also shared that he would send the letter to Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial.
“I can no longer remain on the seat of the speaker and I resign,” said Qaiser. He also shared that he accepts the Supreme Court’s decision and asked former speaker Ayaz Sadiq to run the session.
“Ayaz Sadiq is requested to come and complete the legal procedure [on the no-confidence motion],” said Qaiser.
Despite the PTI government’s hectic efforts to avoid voting on the no-confidence motion against Imran Khan, the historic session of the National Assembly to decide his fate began on Saturday at 10:30am in line with the Supreme Court's decision.
The much-awaited session, however, witnessed at least four breaks with the government seeking some way out of the situation, but in the end, the Opposition was able to get their way.
There were many deliberations that the Chief of Army Staff Qamar Javed Bajwa might be replaced, but Imran Khan refuted the reports, and nothing of the sort took place.
Imran Khan was elected on August 18, 2018, and his term ended on April 10, 2022. He remained in office for 3 years 7 months 23 days.
Two prime ministers — Benazir Bhutto and Shaukat Aziz — had faced the no-confidence motion, but both of them defeated the move and remained in power, making Imran Khan the first premier to be voted out — on the day when Pakistan marks Constitution Day (April 10).
During the first break of the session — which lasted more than two hours — the Opposition held a consultative meeting in the Leader of the Opposition Shahbaz Sharif's chamber to discuss a counter-strategy for the government's alleged plan to prolong the session so that voting could not take place today.
Later during the break, the government and the Opposition reached a consensus regarding maintaining order in the House and allowing the speeches to take place uninterrupted, per sources.
From the Opposition’s side, JUI-F leader Maulana Asad Mahmood assured the members of the treasury benches that they will not interrupt speeches delivered from the government’s side once the session begins; however, he warned that if the MNAs from the treasury benches created a ruckus, the joint Opposition leaders will also react accordingly.
Meanwhile, PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb claimed that the Opposition had not accepted any of the conditions put forward by the government, and reiterated that the voting on the no-confidence motion must take place today.
She further said that no conditions of the government will be entertained and that no-time frame has been finalised for the voting either.
Aurangzeb also reiterated that delay in the voting on the no-confidence motion was tantamount to a violation of the Supreme Court’s verdict and the Constitution, warning the speaker that the punishment for this is three years of imprisonment and five years of disqualification.
Following a delay in voting on the no-confidence motion, the joint Opposition, in a statement, said that Imran Khan is no longer the prime minister of Pakistan.
The leaders further reiterated that neither the Opposition, judiciary nor the people will accept any “unconstitutional move” of Imran Khan.
The joint Opposition further stated that now that Imran Khan is not the prime minister of Pakistan anymore, “he has lost the power of the state and government.”
“None of his decisions, action or order will hold nay constitutional or legal status,” they said, adding that he [Imran Khan] would have to face consequences for every unconstitutional step and the nation will condemn all his actions.
Taking the floor after the session resumed following the first break, former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi began his speech and said that when the National Security Committee (NSC) was informed about the details of the “top-secret document”, the forum decided to immediately demarche and the second order was to summon a session of the Parliament to probe the matter.
Amid interruption from PML-N leader Khawaja Saad Rafique, Qureshi recalled that on April 3, the deputy speaker never opposed the voting on the no-confidence motion, he only said that an unprecedented situation has arrived and a decision should be taken after consultation on this new development.
He further added that the media and people of Pakistan are aware of the “horse-trading” situation and the “market for sell-outs”. He accused the Opposition members of adopting “unconstitutional measures to purchase loyalties of the MNAs.”
The foreign minister complained that those speaking about the constitution and the judiciary ignored all of these “unconstitutional practices”.
Since the Senate elections, PTI has been time and again complaining about these unjust practices of buying and selling consciences, he said, adding that even when PTI produced enough evidence in the court, the judgment has been reserved for the last one year.
He said history will identify all those people who staged this drama; just like how the corruption of the previous governments was highlighted.
“Today Pakistan is standing at a historic juncture and the people need to decide whether they want to live in an independent state or become slaves [to the West],” he said, acknowledging that today might be his last day as the foreign minister of Pakistan.
“As the foreign minister of Pakistan, I want to bring this to record that when the decision to visit Moscow was taken after due deliberation because of Pakistan’s better future and was taken months before the Ukraine situation emerged,” he said, ignoring the sarcastic comments from the Opposition benches.
He said: “Before we [the government] leave, I want to bring this to your knowledge that the national security adviser of the United States called our national security adviser and categorically asked us not to proceed with the Russia tour.”
“Where in the world does any sovereign state gets direction from other countries and which independent country accepts such directions?” he questioned, as the hall echoed with protests from the Opposition benches.
“Pakistan officials thought that during the visit, the delegation would advocate dialogue and diplomacy because Pakistan is not in favour of any aggression."
Pakistan is a country that believes in international law, respects the UN charter, believes in self-determination, and has never supported the use of weapons and force,” Qureshi said, adding that when the US national security adviser asked his Pakistani counterpart to avoid the trip “we conveyed this message to them as well.”
Before the resumption of the session, Qureshi, while citing PM Imran Khan’s April 8 address to the nation, said that to honour the Constitution is the responsibility of all Pakistani and “just like the premier said, although we are disappointed with Supreme Court’s judgment, we still abide by the verdict.”
Highlighting the seriousness of the “threat letter” controversy, Qureshi said: “When the National Security Committee — one of the highest security forums — saw the cypher, a coded message from the ambassador, they acknowledged that the matter is sensitive.”
He further added that the NSC issued two directives: "They acknowledge that there was political interference in the internal matters of Pakistan and ordered the foreign office that a demarche must be issued in Islamabad and Washington as well.
"They also directed to convene a meeting of the national security committee of the parliament to raise this issue in front of selected members of the House."
The PTI vice-chairman recalled that when the speaker summoned a session of the NSC, the Opposition leaders decided not to attend the meeting.
Regarding allegations levelled by the Opposition leaders that the “threat letter” was “fake” and had been “forged”, the foreign minister said that this is an authentic “non-circulation” document sent by an officer and a seasoned diplomat posted in Washington.
“If the Opposition leaders still hold questions regarding the ‘threat letter’, I want to make a proposal on the floor of the House, lets go into an in-camera session and let the ambassador of Pakistan in Washington come in the House and brief the members of the Parliament whether he stands by what he said or not,” Qureshi asserted.
Repeating PM Imran Khan’s words from last night’s session, he reiterated that the US official had warned the Pakistani ambassador that if Imran Khan manages to save himself from the motion, then Pakistan will have to face “severe consequences.”
“If this is not a threat then what is?” he questioned.
Turning to the Opposition, he said that they had been calling for elections for the last three-and-a-half years.
"They [the Opposition] said the elections were not fair and transparent and called Imran Khan selected. Now when Imran Khan suggested holding the elections to see what the nation wants, they are not ready for it," he said.
Speaking during the session, Bilawal reminded the former speaker that the voting on the no-confidence motion must be carried out. Holding the NA's order of the day in his hands, Bilawal said: “You are not only committing contempt of the court but also violating the Constitution as you cannot allow debate on any other topic except for what is on the agenda today in line with the order of the Supreme Court."
He said that on April 3, PTI ministers, the prime minister, the president and the deputy speaker violated the Constitution.
"All of you were involved in this crime," he said.
Interrupting Bilawal, the former speaker said that he respects the court but the court cannot intervene in the domain of the Parliament and vice versa.
The PPP chairman urged the former speaker to comply with the court’s order and hold the voting on the no-confidence motion against the prime minister, adding that he knew who was giving advice to former premier Imran Khan.
“The Opposition will not leave the House if you do not follow today’s agenda,” he warned the ex-speaker.
Bilawal claimed that PM Imran Khan lost the majority in the House, adding that the Opposition has the required numbers to topple the government.
Criticising the ex-premier, the PPP leader said that Imran Khan ran away cowardly from the House and termed the “undemocratic and unconstitutional advice” given to the prime minister as a "conspiracy to wrap up the democratic system in the county."
Recalling alleged rigging in the elections, the PPP leader said that their lawmakers were forced to vote for PTI and claimed that they won the Senate elections by four votes.
He maintained that their 20 lawmakers became the victims of enforced disappearances. “PTI has lost majority because now there is no one to make them disappear,” he added.
Reacting to the “foreign conspiracy”, Bilawal said that ex-PM Imran came up with the idea of a foreign plot when he lost the majority in the house. He maintained that the no-trust motion did not come under discussion in the NSC meeting.
“They are ready to sacrifice the speaker to evade voting on the no-trust motion,” he added. The PPP leader said that they wanted to create a crisis in the country to pave the way for dictatorship and military rule.
“Imran Khan could be disqualified by the court. We can stage a sit-in against him,” Bilawal said, adding that they opted to dislodge him through the democratic way.
At the beginning of the session, Asad Qaiser allowed Shahbaz to begin his speech. But as soon as he started speaking, several of the 151 PTI MNAs present in the House started interrupting him by chanting slogans.
Shahbaz told the ex-speaker to conduct the session as per the order of the Supreme Court and added that today, the Opposition will oust the "selected" prime minister by adopting a lawful and constitutional procedure.
At this, the Qaiser interjected a remark and said that the House should hold a discussion about the "foreign conspiracy" hatched against the PTI government.
Continuing his address, Shahbaz said that April 7 was the “brightest day” in the history of Pakistan when the Supreme Court of Pakistan acknowledged the “unconstitutional act” of the NA speaker, deputy speaker and prime minister and declared it “null and void”.
“The apex court did not take the support of the doctrine of necessity but instead buried it forever; making Pakistan’s future brightest,” he said, adding that the entire nation is thankful.
He urged the former speaker to conduct proceedings in accordance with the SC's directives, warning him that he [Qaiser] will violate the constitution if he takes up any other agenda, including the foreign conspiracy”.
The PML-N leader read the following para from the written verdict of the SC order:
"Under the court's directives, you are bound to take up this agenda item and no other item. That is the intent of the order and you cannot deviate from it," he said.
Amid protest from the Opposition benches, Shahbaz called on the speaker to hold voting on the motion forthwith.
Replying to his demand and constant reminder of the apex court’s verdict, the former speaker said: "The SC's orders will be followed in true letter and spirit.”
Ex-president Asif Ali Zardari drew the attention of the speaker to the order of the day. "Today is the voting day."
"They are hunters, cricketers, politicians, and are running the country in a good manner [...] then why are the exports the same as they were during my tenure," Zardari asked the government.
The ex-president said there were several things that the PTI leaders would learn someday. "The PPP is the only party that has a political university, and they have several students of ours in their camp."
"Please don't waste time; let this reach its end," Zardari said as he noted that once Pakistan has political stability, the economic conditions would gradually improve.
"Due to the Supreme Court's decision, the market went up by 700% and the dollar spiralled by Rs3.5, but they (government) cannot see this as they do not care [for stability]," Zardari said.
"...all I am asking you is: vote, vote, vote, and nothing but vote [...] I do not want to against you (Asad Qaiser) to the Supreme Court and tell the court that you are guilty of contempt," the PPP co-chairman said.
Former planning minister Asad Umar claimed that the Supreme Court’s declaration of the deputy speaker's ruling was "interference in the proceedings of the Parliament."
“If Supreme Court has to decide on which day and at what time the session will be summoned then we should do away with assembly,” said Umar. He added that the apex court’s decision was “an interference in Parliament’s matters”.
“Would it have been right if the Parliament had intervened in Supreme Court’s matters?” asked Umar. He also questioned whether it would have been right if the Parliament decided which judge comes and goes in the Parliament.
“Would it have been right if Parliament decides which case is heard when? We have to decide that no one can challenge the Parliament’s rights,” said Umar.
The minister also asked the Opposition if they “believe in democracy” then they should also “believe in Parliament’s supremacy”.
“The House should unite and raise its voice that the power of Parliament belongs to no one else,” said Umar.
Taking to the floor former human rights minister Shireen Mazari said that the US currency [dollars] and foreign threats “unite traitors.”
Mazari's speech revolved around the alleged US influence on Pakistani politics. "It is this nation's misfortune that America has always been successful in [changing] the leaders of Pakistan."
She recalled that the Opposition was invited to check the “threat letter” that according to the government is “proof” of a foreign-funded conspiracy. But I know why you did not come ... because you're a part of that conspiracy, which clearly states that “if you will oust Imran Khan and no-confidence vote is successful, then the nation will be forgiven.”
Speaking about ECP’s statement regarding elections, she said: "The ECP's statement of not being able to hold elections, too, is a part of this conspiracy.”
For his part, ex-foreign minister and PML-N leader Khawaja Asif said the lawmakers whose forefathers are named in the Hamood-ur-Rehman Commission report — on the fall of Dhaka — are calling the Opposition members traitors.
"They are lying, there is no letter [...] they will go to any lengths to save their power. They are conspiring to get martial law imposed in the country," the ex-minister said.
Asif challenged the former prime minister to come and face the members in the lower house as again turned down the claims of the prime minister and federal ministers of a "threat" to their government from a foreign power.
"We are in majority, they are in minority; wrap up your stuff and leave [...] we will keep standing here for the supremacy of the Constitution," the PML-N leader said.
Asif said the time for debate was over, and the house should have moved earlier toward voting. "Start the voting process," the ex-foreign minister told the speaker.
During the delayed break, Shahbaz Sharif, along with other Opposition leaders, held consultations in their chamber to discuss the situation of the NA session. The consultative meeting discussed the strategies regarding the government.
MNAs including Asad Mahmood, Akhtar Mengal, Khalid Hussain Magsi and Shahzain Bugti were present in the meeting.
Shahbaz and Zardari discussed the government’s tactics in delaying the voting.
The Supreme Court had on Thursday ordered the government to hold voting on the motion on Saturday at all costs according to the agenda issued for April 3 session when the deputy speaker rejected the motion through a ruling declaring it "unconstitutional" and a "foreign conspiracy".
The top court’s directives came after Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial took suo motu notice of Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri’s ruling and the subsequent dissolution of the assembly, declaring all the decisions unconstitutional.
As per the order of the Supreme Court voting is to be held at all costs today and in case the PM is voted out, the election of a new Leader of the House will be held during the same session. The voting on the no-confidence motion is at the fourth position in the six-point agenda issued for today.
It is pertinent to mention here that the Opposition had submitted the no-confidence motions against the former speaker and deputy speaker, however, Asad Qaiser was allowed to chair Saturday's session according to the rules.
Prior to the commencement of the session, Shahbaz, while sharing his future plans, said he would form a collation government comprising all the Opposition parties, adding, “it will not be only PML-N's government.”
The PML-N leader was speaking to the media after arriving at the assembly.
When asked if he would take Imran Khan to trial or pardon him if the no-trust motion against him succeeds, Shahbaz said: “Why do you ask such questions which I cannot answer?"
Hours ahead of the session, the joint Opposition held a meeting to prepare a strategy for today where, according to PML-N spokesperson Marrriyum Aurangzeb, 175 lawmakers were present.
The meeting was attended by top opposition leaders including Bilawal and others.
During the meeting, opposition leaders said that voting on the no-confidence motion is their constitutional and democratic right. The leaders said that they will "not compromise on the voting today".
Before the NA session began, a delegation of senior Opposition leaders, including Ayaz Sadiq, Rana Sanaullah and Saad Rafiqui, met the then NA speaker Asad Qaiser.
During the brief meeting, the Opposition members reiterated the Supreme Court’s verdict and discussed the orders and rules of the assembly.
The Opposition delegation clarified that "no other agenda can be taken in line with the orders of the court and the rules of the assembly."
“The no-confidence motion is a parliamentary, democratic, and constitutional initiative,” the delegation told the ex-speaker.
They warned Qaiser that if anything else is discussed, it will be “contempt of court and unconstitutional.”
Speaking to Geo News, NA Deputy Speaker Qasim Khan Suri said that he is a “patriotic person” and passed the April 3 ruling on the basis of facts.
“I did not breach any law I had seen the proofs regarding the ‘foreign conspiracy’ and ‘threat letter’ before passing the ruling,” he maintained.
It is worth mentioning that out of the 133 members of the treasury benches only 51 MNAs are present in the assembly.
The National Assembly officials told Geo News that according to the SC larger bench's written order, the NA Speaker was made duty-bound to proceed with the no-trust motion against former prime minister Imran Khan as per the April 3 agenda of the National Assembly.
The NA officials said that the voting on the no-trust motion could take place within seven days of its submission and last Sunday (April 3) was the last day of voting, so SC's larger bench ordered the speaker to revive the April 3 agenda of the National Assembly and conduct voting on the no-confidence motion. Therefore, today (April 9) will be considered the last day (seventh day) of voting on the no-confidence motion and it is essential to move with the set agenda.