No-confidence motion against Parvez Elahi disposed of sans voting

| PML-N files another no-trust motion against PA Speaker
| Sami Ullah says session started in absence of treasury members | Secretary Assembly Mohammad Khan Bhatti skips police raid

LAHORE    –   A no-confidence motion filed against Punjab Assembly Speaker Ch Parvez Elahi was disposed of without voting on Sunday as the mover, the PML-N’s Sami Ullah Khan, was not present in the House when the Panel of Chairman Nawab Zada Wasim Khan Badozai called his name to move the motion.

It was seen as a tactical move by the PML-N to avoid voting on the motion since it did not have the required number (168) for the motion to be carried. If the PML-N had opted for the voting to take place, the motion would have been defeated, and it would have given the PTI and the PML-Q an opportunity to celebrate victory and do political point scoring over it.  Though the PML-N and the PPP alliance still have a simple majority in the Punjab Assembly even after losing support of the 25 PTI defectors; but for a no-trust motion to be carried or defeated, a simple majority of the total membership (371) of the Assembly is required.

If put to vote, both the no-trust motions against the speaker and the deputy would have been defeated today as no party has the required number.  The voting on no-trust motion is conducted through secret ballot.

Though the PML-N leaders later accused the PTI of foul play by initiating proceedings in their absence, it was by design that no PML-N or PPP member was present in the House when the Panel of Chairman initiated proceedings on the no-confidence motion against the speaker. Around 26 PTI members were, however, present though they deliberately sat on the treasury benches giving the impression that they did not recognize Hamza Shehbaz Sharif as the legitimate chief minister.

Speaker Ch Parvez Elahi had on Saturday rescheduled the Assembly sitting for Sunday instead of May 30 to conduct voting on the no-trust motions filed against him and Deputy Speaker Sardar Dost Mohammad Mazari. The speaker’s move to call the session before the scheduled date came after the Election Commission of Pakistan de-notified 25 PTI MPAs who had voted for Hamza Shehbaz Sharif in the chief minister’s election held last month.

Sunday’s Assembly sitting lasted only for ten minutes as the Panel of Chairman adjourned it for June 6 without taking up the no-trust motion against the deputy speaker which was also on the day’s agenda.

Though the session started at around 2 pm, one- and-half hours behind the schedule, the mover, Sami Ullah Khan later blamed Ch Parvez Elahi for his absence from the house saying that it was under his directions that the session was started in the absence of the treasury members. He alleged that he, along with other members of the parliamentary party, reached one of the three assembly gates, but it was closed. “Then we moved to another gate, which was also closed. Finally, we managed to enter the assembly from the third gate, but by that time the sitting had been adjourned” he maintained.

Before the start of the Assembly sitting, a blame game started over the closure of the Assembly gates.

Early in the morning, the police did not allow the Assembly staff to enter the Assembly without showing the Assembly card. Most of the Assembly employees could not enter the Assembly on time. The police also arrested Secretary Coordination Inayat Ullah Lak and DG Parliamentary Affairs Rai Mumtaz Babar from their house in respect of cases registered against them. Secretary Assembly Mohammad Khan Bhatti, however, escaped his arrest and reached the Assembly along with former Law Minister Raja Basharat.

Meanwhile, the PML-N has submitted another no-confidence motion against Ch Parvez Elahi to be taken up later at an appropriate time. Seemingly, the move aims at preventing the speaker from taking charge as the governor and in that capacity asking the chief minister to take a vote of confidence.

If a no-trust motion is in place and the speaker takes charge as governor, a possibility is there that the deputy speaker who will get powers of the speaker in his absence may reschedule the Assembly sitting for voting on the motion. Since the voting is carried through a secret ballot, the speaker can be voted out with the support of a dozen PTI MPAs who will have no fear of disqualification in this case.

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