Why the speaker is using delaying tactics in the vote of no-confidence?

 PTI is not seemed comfortable facing the vote of no-confidence in the national assembly due to the defections in the ruling party 

The speaker of the national assembly Asad Qaiser has finally summoned the session of the house on March 25 to vote on the motion of no-confidence. The opposition submitted the motion of no-confidence against Prime Minister Imran Khan on March 08. According to the constitution, the speaker is bound to summon the session of the national assembly within 14 days. The last date to summon the house was March 21. But in this case, the speaker has delayed the session for four days in clear violation of the constitution.

The opposition is accusing the speaker of using delaying tactics on the no-confidence vote. The speaker was bound to call the session of the national assembly on March 21. The speaker is justifying the delay and violation of the constitution due to the OIC foreign minister’s meeting in the national assembly hall from March 22 to 24.

The speaker of national assembly is deliberately using delaying tactics on the behest of the PTI government. It seems that PTI government is not feeling confident to face the vote of no-confidence moved by opposition parties. The speaker is playing a partisan role and violating the constitution. He is not following the constitutional process to complete the democratic excercise of no-confidence motion against prime minister. 

The government wants to buy time for two reasons. One, the government is using pressure tactics to bring back the rebel MNAs of the ruling party to defeat the no-confidence motion of the opposition against PM Imran Khan. The government is using different tactics to put pressure on the rebel members to force them to return back to the ruling party. Nearly two dozen ruling party MNAs have publicly announced to vote against the prime minister in the no-confidence move.

The efforts to win them back have so far failed. The government seems under pressure and resorting to desperate tactics to survive.  The government knows well that if these defectors voted with opposition against the government, then the government of PM Imran khan will fall. The government lacks the numbers to defeat the opposition on a vote of no-confidence. So, it is desperately looking to gain more time to make efforts to gain support.

But the threatening statements and allegations of bribery will not help the government’s cause. The rebel members have hardened their stance on these threats and allegations. If the government is confident about the numbers game, then it could have been called the session earlier to end the political uncertainty.

Two, the government is hoping that it might be able to get a favourable verdict on the presidential reference to interpret article 63(A) of the constitution. The government is seeking a lifetime ban on the MNAs defecting from the ruling party. The Supreme Court will take up the presidential reference on March 24.  A five-member larger bench will hear the case.     

In a Supreme Court hearing yesterday – on a plea by the Supreme Court Bar Association, seeking SC’s intervention in preventing anarchy ahead of the no-confidence vote – the SCBA had argued that the right to vote should not be infringed upon. The next hearing regarding the presidential reference on Article 63(A) is set to take place on March 24, and will hopefully clarify the defection clause question.

 Most legal experts believe that the defection clause only comes into play once the vote has been cast and that the intentions of parliamentarians cannot lead to disqualification. Chief Justice Umar Atta Bandial seemed to echo similar sentiments on Monday, saying that the court would not wish to interfere in the National Assembly's affairs but would want that no one's right to vote be affected.

The ruling party has had a diverse set of reactions to the whole no-confidence matter, starting from attacks and threats then moving to cajole and persuasion, and then reverting right back to veiled threats. Keeping with its track record, the PTI has continued blaming the media when it should be focusing on keeping its numbers intact. In his speech on Sunday, PM Khan alleged that media houses have been receiving funds for campaigns against his government. 

The Media Joint Action Committee has justifiably criticized his statement, saying this amount to accusing the media of corruption, and asking the PM to refrain from such defamatory allegations for political point-scoring. It is truly unfortunate how this government’s odd obsession with the media and its continued attacks on journalists have continued, further weakening democratic traditions in the country.

A little respect for democratic traditions and processes is sorely needed at this point.


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