Latest updates on no-confidence motion against PM Imran Khan: Voting finally Start

Pakistan Political Crisis LIVE Updates: The Chief Justice has reportedly instructed officials to open the Supreme Court at midnight if the no-trust vote is not held by then.

ISLAMABAD: Despite the PTI government’s hectic efforts to avoid voting on the no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Imran Khan, the historic session of the National Assembly to decide his fate began on Saturday at 10:30am, while the voting began 10 minutes before the clock struck 12 after a lot of drama. 

Meanwhile, sources told Geo News that NA Speaker Asad Qaiser has agreed to hold voting on the no-confidence motion after the assembly officials informed him that he will face “severe consequences” in case of the violation of the court’s order. 

But despite the shortage of time until the clock strikes 12, Asad Qaiser and Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri were summoned to the Prime Minister’s House to hold a meeting with the premier before returning to the NA.

Earlier, Geo News had also reported that Qaiser had refused to allow the voting, adding that since he shares a 30-year-long relationship with PM Imran Khan, he cannot betray him.

What has happened so far?

During the first break — 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.

‘Imran Khan has lost all his powers’

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 PM 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.

‘US security adviser asked Pakistani counterpart to avoid Russia tour’: Qureshi

Taking the floor after the session resumed, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said 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.

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