Pakistan: The National Assembly is set to meet today for the election of a new prime minister after an unceremonious end to Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan’s tenure as the country’s chief executive through a no-confidence vote in the wee hours of Sunday.

PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif — who is the former joint opposition’s candidate for the prime minister’s slot — and PTI’s Shah Mahmood Qureshi are in the race to become the country’s new prime minister.


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Among the two, Shehbaz is said to have brighter chances of making it to the top slot. Meanwhile, the possibility of Qureshi going ahead with contesting the election remains uncertain as the PTI is yet to decide on its lawmakers resigning, in which case the former foreign minister would have to choose between competing for the prime minister’s position and resigning along with other MNAs.

According to the NA agenda issued by the house’s secretariat for today, the session for the prime minister’s election will begin at 2pm.

The premier’s election is the only item on the agenda — apart from the recitation of the Holy Quran and a Naat, which marks the commencement of every NA session — stating that the house would convene to vote for the new leader of the house “as required by Article 91 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, read with rule 32 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the National Assembly, 2007”.

Former prime minister Imran Khan arrived at Parliament House ahead of the session for the election of a new premier to chair a meeting of the party’s parliamentary committee.

When asked to comment on protests held across the country by PTI supporters last night, he smiled and said: “God is the one who gives respect.”

Submission of nomination papers

Both Shehbaz and Qureshi had filed their nomination papers yesterday, hours after Imran Khan’s ouster as the prime minister.

Qureshi had submitted four forms with the NA Secretariat, while Shehbaz had filed 13 forms.

During the submission of the nomination papers, the PTI had raised objections to Shehbaz’s nomination and subsequently PTI’s Qureshi and Babar Awan had exchanged heated words with PML-N leaders Zahid Hamid and Atta Tarar.

The senior PTI leaders had submitted objections against Shehbaz, stating that the latter was contesting the election on the day of his expected indictment in a money laundering case. They were of the opinion that he did not deserve to be the new PM due to his “involvement” in corruption cases.

On Monday, the court, however, deferred the indictment.

Responding to these allegations, Tarar had said since Shehbaz had not been convicted in any case, his nomination could not be rejected merely on the basis of allegations. Hamid had reminded the PTI leaders that nomination could be rejected only on the grounds mentioned in the Constitution and Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the NA, 2007, under which the candidate for the office of PM must be a Muslim, an MNA and signature of the candidate and his proposer and seconder must be genuine.

The NA secretary had eventually accepted the nomination papers of both the candidates.

No-trust votes ousts Imran

The election for the prime minister comes two days after a premature end to the PTI tenure following weeks of political turmoil.

The saga began with the joint opposition — primarily the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) and the PPP — submitting the no-confidence motion against Imran Khan with the NA Secretariat on March 8.

In the days to follow, the country’s political landscape was abuzz with activity as parties and individuals changed alliances and the PTI and opposition were seen trading barbs and allegations alongside intensifying efforts to ensure their success in the no-confidence contest.

Eventually, major allies of the ruling PTI — Balochistan Awami Party and Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan — deserted the government and joined the opposition ranks which led to PM Imran losing his majority in the lower house of parliament.

In addition, over a dozen PTI dissident MNAs have already come into the open with their criticism on PTI policies.

For its part, the PTI had managed to secure the support of another one of its key allies, the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q), as Usman Buzdar stepped down as the Punjab chief minister in favour of the PML-Q’s Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, who the ruling party announced as its candidate for the province’s new chief executive.

However, one of the many twists in the saga emerged when Imran Khan claimed to have evidence of a “foreign conspiracy” to oust his government. At the PTI’s rally on March 27, the premier had pulled out a piece of paper from his pocket and waved it at the crowd, claiming it was evidence of an “international conspiracy” being hatched to topple his government.

The PTI accused the opposition of being part of the foreign plot and tried to turn the tide in its favour by disclosing some of the details in the “threat letter” to journalists and lawmakers.

Separately, after a few delays, the National Assembly finally convened on April 3 to vote on the no-trust motion against the premier.

However, the PTI would prove to be five steps ahead of the opposition as the deputy speaker, who was chairing the session, dismissed the motion, saying it was part of a foreign conspiracy to oust Imran Khan, after Chaudhry spoke on a point of order, citing Article 5 of the Constitution, which mandates loyalty to the state for every citizen.

Within minutes of the pandemonium that broke out, Imran Khan appeared on television to announce that he had advised the president to dissolve the lower house of parliament and called on the people to prepare for fresh elections.

The government’s move also led to the Supreme Court taking suo motu notice of the deputy speaker’s ruling with Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial stating that all orders and actions initiated by the prime minister and president regarding the dissolution of the NA would be subject to the court’s order. Meanwhile, opposition parties also filed pleas questioning the legality of Suri’s ruling.

What followed were five days of marathon hearings where the court heard arguments from the government and the opposition. At the same time, the PTI began its preparations for the next elections, insisting on the existence of a foreign conspiracy behind the no-confidence motion.

On Thursday last week, the apex court — in a historic ruling — set aside Suri’s ruling and the subsequent dissolution of the assembly by the president on the erstwhile PM’s advice, with all five judges unanimously voting 5-0 against it.

The court’s verdict also restored the prime minister and his cabinet in their position and directed for the session of the National Assembly to reconvene on Saturday no later than 10:30am, saying that the session cannot be prorogued without the conclusion of the no-trust motion against Imran.

On Saturday, the session commenced at 10:30am but continued into the wee hours of Sunday as the opposition’s clamour for immediate voting throughout the day fell on deaf ears amid lengthy speeches delivered from treasury members on the floor of the house. The session was adjourned four times and the voting took place only after Asad Qaiser resigned at the speaker of the house almost 15 minutes before midnight, which according to legal experts, was the deadline to implement the Supreme Court’s orders to conduct voting on the no-trust motion.

PML-N’s Ayaz Sadiq, who was among the panel of chairmen, had then chaired the session, with the voting on the motion finally taking place at 11:58pm.

The results were announced in the early hours of Sunday, with 174 MNAs voting in favour of the resolution, two more than the required number of 172 out of a total 342 for the resolution to pass.

History was written as Imran Khan became the first prime minister in Pakistan to have been removed from office through a no-confidence vote.

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