ISLAMABAD: The speaker of the National Assembly (NA) of Pakistan "violated" the constitution by delaying a key session of the lower house of parliament to March 25, a Pakistani opposition leader said on Sunday, in which the no-trust resolution against Prime Minister Imran Khan is expected to be tabled.
The opposition had warned NA Speaker Asad Qaiser a day earlier not to delay the no-confidence motion while asking him to summon the National Assembly session on Monday, March 21, to fulfil his constitutional obligation.
The opposition, which blames Khan for mismanaging the country, economy and foreign policy, filed the no-confidence motion against him on March 8.
According to law, the NA speaker has a maximum of 14 days to summon a session of parliament to table the no-trust resolution. Monday, March 21 is the last day.
"The coward captain is running away from the vote of no-confidence, to an extent that he has the constitution violated by his speaker," Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the chairman of the opposition's Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), said at a press conference in Islamabad.
"A winning captain doesn't run away from a match. The one who is seeing his defeat, the way he is running away is in front of you."
He said Speaker Qaiser had summoned the session after the expiry of 14-day constitutional period since the filing of the requisition.
"This is not up to the speaker. The constitution of Pakistan says he has to summon the session in 14 days," the PPP chairman said.
He noted the South Asian had the precedent to hold a vote seven days after the submission of a no-confidence motion.
Earlier, a tweet on the social media account of the lower house of parliament confirmed Speaker Qaiser had convened a meeting of the National Assembly at 11 am on Friday, March 25.
The decision was taken under Articles 54 (3) and 254 of Pakistan’s constitution, it added.
In a subsequent tweet, it was said that the session had been convened in response to the opposition’s requisition.
PPP Senator Sherry Rehman said the constitution clearly mentioned that the speaker had to convene the session within 14 days of the opposition’s request.
“How can he convene a session on March 25?” she asked while speaking to Geo News. “The outer limits of the session [when it can be convened] as per the constitution, is within 14 days. If we count, the 14-day deadline expires tomorrow.”
Rehman warned the speaker he would be committing a "serious crime" if he did not summon the session on Monday.
“He is taking the country toward a very dangerous constitutional crisis,” she noted.
The PPP leader also urged the speaker “not to make a joke” of his constitutional post.
In response to a question, she said the Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s meeting should be held in a cordial atmosphere.
“The government, however, cannot violate the constitution by hiding behind the OIC conference,” she added.