Can President force PM for fresh vote of confidence?

ISLAMABAD – Though the coalition government in the centre has recently taken the reins with the majority of votes, yet it has been expecting ‘surprises’ from the president by exercising his constitutional powers anytime.

President Arif Alvi, having his association with the Imran Khan lead opposition party   [PTI], is considered as a constant fear over the incumbent government to create legal and constitutional hurdles.

The recent verdict of the apex court related to PTI dissident members in the Punjab Assembly has once again created instability in the current political arena.

With this political chaos and a constant threat of long march by the former premier Imran Khan, President Arif Alvi can also exercise his legal and constitutional powers against the incumbent government.

“The president can ask prime minister to take a vote of confidence,” said a constitutional expert and former Senate chairman, Wasim Sajjad while talking to the Nation. However, he said that there was no strict time limitation for the prime minister to immediately take vote of confidence after receiving a summary from the president in this regard.

The recent meeting of coalition partners with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has cleared the mist that the present government is not ready to succumb to political pressure, currently being mounted by the PTI chairman Imran Khan in the shape of a long march threat.

Background discussions with the coalition partners revealed that they would fully support the PML-N led government in all the crisis-like situations in the country. They would not compromise over electoral reforms, as it would be their first priority even before the upcoming federal budget.

Coalition partners to fully support PML-N led govt in all crisis-like situations in country

“We will support Shehbaz Sharif in all this difficult period. Even if the president asks PM to take a vote of confidence, we will support Shehbaz Sharif,” said a MQM-P’s MNA Salahuddin, while talking to this scribe.

Other lawmakers were of the view that the coalition government was formed after thorough consultation. “This coalition government would go for announcing elections in the country after necessary legislative business and other measures,” they said.

In parliamentary history, the former prime minister Imran Khan was not bound to take a vote of confidence after the passage of the 18th Amendment, but preferred it after the victory of Yousaf Raza Gilani in Senate election, as PTI’s candidate was defeated.

Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto and other prime ministers had taken a vote of confidence within 30 days of electing as leader of the house as they were legally bound to do so.

According to clause-7 of Article 91 of the Constitution, the president “shall not exercise his powers under this clause unless he is satisfied that the prime minister does not command the confidence of the majority” in the assembly.

Clause 7 of Article 91 reads: “The prime minister shall hold office during the pleasure of the president, but the president shall not exercise his powers under this clause unless he is satisfied that the prime minister does not command the confidence of the majority of the members of the National Assembly, in which case he shall summon the National Assembly and require the prime minister to obtain a vote of confidence from the Assembly.”

“It is the prerogative of the president to invoke this Article if he believes that the PM has lost the confidence of the National Assembly,  since the law specifically states that it is the ‘satisfaction of the president’ to assume that the PM does not command the confidence of the assembly.”

Political and constitutional experts viewed that the present government will be able to handle all possible legal and constitutional hurdles on the basis of its majority in the parliament.

About the PTI dissidents in the national assembly, they were of the view that this recent verdict would not directly prove damaging to them.

According to the parliamentary history of floor crossing in Pakistan, the lawmakers in past had also managed to save themselves in different ways.

“A member of Parliament may lose his seat if he/she may resign from his party or become a member of another parliamentary party,” says the rules.

In another situation, “He/she should abstain from voting against any constitutional amendment against the party directive or during the election of the PM or CM or during the motion of no-confidence”.  The PTI dissidents in the National Assembly had not participated in the process of voting [Vote of no-confidence against Imran Khan].

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