Pakistan Speaker and Deputy Speaker resign ahead of trust vote

Imran chairs Cabinet meeting, denies sacking army chief Bajwa

April 10, 2022 01:13 am | Updated 02:38 am IST - ISLAMABAD

On a day of high drama, Pakistan’s National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser and Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri resigned on Saturday night with minutes left for the Supreme Court-directed deadline to hold a no-trust vote against Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government.

The crucial session of the House began at 10:30 a.m. with Speaker Qaiser, a senior member of Mr. Khan’s party, in the chair. Since then, the session has been adjourned four times for one reason or another. After the Speaker’s resignation, the House started the voting on the no-confidence motion, with Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s Ayaz Sadiq chairing the proceedings.

Lawmakers of Mr. Khan’s Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and opposition parties clashed with each other when the National Assembly was convened on Saturday after the Supreme Court struck down an earlier order by the Deputy Speaker to reject the no-trust vote and subsequent dissolution of the National Assembly.

Mr. Khan chaired an emergency Cabinet meeting hours before the voting started and decided not to resign. The crisis and uncertainty had spawned different rumours such as martial law being implemented and Mr. Khan ousting the army chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa. After the Cabinet meeting, Mr. Khan rejected reports that he had dismissed the Army chief. Talking to a group of his favourite journalists, who are known for defending him in the talk-shows, Mr. Khan said: "There was neither any talk of dismissing the army chief nor was this on the cards

Separately, PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz lashed out at Mr. Khan for lavishing praise on India, saying he should go to the neighbouring country if he likes it so much. Her remarks came after Mr. Khan called India a “nation with a great sense of honour”.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi told Parliament that the U.S. National Security Adviser telephoned his Pakistani counterpart and “categorically asked us not to proceed with the Russia tour” of Prime Minister Imran Khan in February.

In a lengthy address to the National Assembly, Mr. Qureshi talked major foreign policy issues, especially the alleged regime change being plotted by the U.S. in Pakistan. “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],” the 65-year-old politician said.

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