It has been about five days since Jamiat Ulema e Islam-F (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazl ur Rehman along about two dozen thousands supporters has staged sit-in protest in Islamabad demanding resignation of Prime Minister Imran Khan.
Leaders of other political parties have also made guest appearances at the ‘Azadi March’ and expressed their support for the demand and the protest against “rising inflation”.
Though Maulana’s party has a token presence in the parliament, however the combined number of seats of the opposition in the National Assembly are considerable.
The question here arises if the opposition can constitutionally topple Imran Khan as prime minister or not.
Let’s examine Article 95 of the constitution of Pakistan, which allows to table a no-confidence motion against the prime minister.
Article 95: Vote of no-confidence against Prime Minister
1. A resolution for a vote of no-confidence moved by not less than twenty per centum of the total membership of the National Assembly may be passed against the Prime Minister by the National Assembly.
2. A resolution referred to in clause (1) shall not be voted upon before the expiration of three days, or later than seven days, from the day on which such resolution is moved in the National Assembly.
3. A resolution referred to in clause (1) shall not be moved in the National Assembly while the National Assembly is considering demands for grants submitted to it in the Annual Budget Statement.
4. If the resolution referred to in clause (1) is passed by a majority of the total membership of the National Assembly, the Prime Minister shall cease to hold office.
What is a no-confidence motion?
A no-confidence motion is the voting on whether the members of the National Assembly still have confidence in the government or prime minister or not. So, the motion can be tabled by any member of the upper house with the support of 20 percent of MNAs. It could remove a prime minister or trigger a general elections, provided that it gets the desired number of votes which is 172.
The voting can be held three days after the motion has been tabled and before seven days have passed.
It may be noted that the opposition does not enjoy simple majority in the NA as it has 156 seats out of 342.
Breakdown of opposition parties’ seat-wise strength in NA
Pakistan Muslim League-N 84; Pakistan Peoples Party 55; Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal 16 and Awami National Party 1, so the total number of seats with the opposition are 156.
Thus they are left with only one choice. They can achieve their target if they succeed in getting support of the allied parties of the government.
The strength of allies of the government is as follows: Pakistan Muslim League –Q 5; Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan 7; Balochistan National Party 4 and Independents 4; total 20.