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Live updates on no-confidence motion against PM Imran Khan: NA session resumes after iftaar break

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Despite the PTI government’s hectic efforts to avoid voting on the no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Imran Khan, the historic session of the National Assembly to decide his fate began on Saturday at 10:30am — and after three breaks, the session resumed after iftaar.

NA Secretariat sources say the session will likely continue till 12am, while PM Imran Khan has summoned a meeting of the federal cabinet at 9pm.

What has happened so far?

During the first break — which lasted more than two hours —  the Opposition held a consultative meeting in the Leader of the Opposition Shahbaz Sharif’s chamber to discuss a counter-strategy for the government’s alleged plan to prolong the session so that voting could not take place today.  

But later, the government and the Opposition reached a consensus regarding maintaining order in the House and allowing the speeches to take place uninterrupted, per source

From the Opposition’s side, JUI-F leader Maulana Asad Mahmood assured the members of the treasury benches that they will not interrupt speeches delivered from the government’s side; however, he warned that if the MNAs from the treasury benches created a ruckus, the joint Opposition leaders will also react accordingly.

Meanwhile, PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb claimed that the Opposition had not accepted any of the conditions put forward by the government, and reiterated that the voting on the no-confidence motion must take place today.  

She further said that no conditions of the government will be entertained and that no-time frame has been finalised for the voting either.

Aurangzeb also reiterated that delay in the voting on the no-confidence motion was tantamount to a violation of the Supreme Court’s verdict and the Constitution, warning the speaker that the punishment for this is three years of imprisonment and five years of disqualification.

‘US security adviser asked Pakistani counterpart to avoid Russia tour’: Qureshi

Taking the floor after the session resumed, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said when the National Security Committee (NSC) was informed about the details of the “top-secret document”, the forum decided to immediately demarche and the second order was to summon a session of the Parliament to probe the matter.

Amid interruption from PML-N leader Khawaja Saad Rafique, Qureshi recalled that on April 3, the deputy speaker never opposed the voting on the no-confidence motion, he only said that an unprecedented situation has arrived and a decision should be taken after consultation on this new development.

He further added that the media and people of Pakistan are aware of the “horse-trading” situation and the “market for sell-outs”. He accused the Opposition members of adopting “unconstitutional measures to purchase loyalties of the MNAs.”

The foreign minister complained that those speaking about the constitution and the judiciary ignored all of these “unconstitutional practices”.

Since the Senate elections, PTI has been time and again complaining about these unjust practices of buying and selling consciences, he said, adding that even when PTI produced enough evidence in the court, the judgment has been reserved for the last one year.

He said history will identify all those people who staged this drama; just like how the corruption of the previous governments was highlighted.

“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],” he said, acknowledging that today might be his last day as the foreign minister of Pakistan.

“As the foreign minister of Pakistan, I want to bring this to record that when the decision to visit Moscow was taken after due deliberation because of Pakistan’s better future and was taken months before the Ukraine situation emerged,” he said, ignoring the sarcastic comments from the Opposition benches.

He said: “Before we [the government] leave, I want to bring this to your knowledge that the national security adviser of the United States called our national security adviser and categorically asked us not to proceed with the Russia tour.”

“Where in the world does any sovereign state gets direction from other countries and which independent country accepts such directions?” he questioned, as the hall echoed with protests from the Opposition benches.

“Pakistan officials thought that during the visit, the delegation would advocate dialogue and diplomacy because Pakistan is not in favour of any aggression.”

Pakistan is a country that believes in international law, respects the UN charter, believes in self-determination, and has never supported the use of weapons and force,” Qureshi said, adding that when the US national security adviser asked his Pakistani counterpart to avoid the trip “we conveyed this message to them as well.”

Before the resumption of the session, Qureshi, while citing PM Imran Khan’s April 8 address to the nation, said that to honour the Constitution is the responsibility of all Pakistani and “just like the premier said, although we are disappointed with Supreme Court’s judgment, we still abide by the verdict.”

Highlighting the seriousness of the “threat letter” controversy, Qureshi said: “When the National Security Committee — one of the highest security forums — saw the cypher, a coded message from the ambassador, they acknowledged that the matter is sensitive.”

He further added that the NSC issued two directives: “They acknowledge that there was political interference in the internal matters of Pakistan and ordered the foreign office that a demarche must be issued in Islamabad and Washington as well.

“They also directed to convene a meeting of the national security committee of the parliament to raise this issue in front of selected members of the House.”

The PTI vice-chairman recalled that when the speaker summoned a session of the NSC, the Opposition leaders decided not to attend the meeting.

Regarding allegations levelled by the Opposition leaders that the “threat letter” was “fake” and had been “forged”, the foreign minister said that this is an authentic “non-circulation” document sent by an officer and a seasoned diplomat posted in Washington.

“If the Opposition leaders still hold questions regarding the ‘threat letter’, I want to make a proposal on the floor of the House, lets go into an in-camera session and let the ambassador of Pakistan in Washington come in the House and brief the members of the Parliament whether he stands by what he said or not,” Qureshi asserted.

Repeating PM Imran Khan’s words from last night’s session, he reiterated that the US official had warned the Pakistani ambassador that if Imran Khan manages to save himself from the motion, then Pakistan will have to face “severe consequences.”

“If this is not a threat then what is?” he questioned.

Turning to the Opposition, he said that they had been calling for elections for the last three-and-a-half years.

“They [the Opposition] said the elections were not fair and transparent and called Imran Khan selected. Now when Imran Khan suggested holding the elections to see what the nation wants, they are not ready for it,” he said.

‘Voting must be carried out’: Bilawal

Speaking during the session, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said reminded the speaker that the voting on the no-confidence motion must be carried out. Holding the NA’s order of the day in his hands, Bilawal said: “You are not only committing contempt of the court but also violating the Constitution as you cannot allow debate on any other topic except for what is on the agenda today in line with the order of the Supreme Court.”

He said that on April 3, PTI ministers, the prime minister, the president and the deputy speaker violated the Constitution.

“All of you were involved in this crime,” he said.

Interrupting Bilawal, the speaker said that he respects the court but the court cannot intervene in the domain of the Parliament and vice versa.

The PPP chairman urged the speaker to comply with the court’s order and hold the voting on the no-confidence motion against the prime minister, adding that he knew who was giving advice to PM Imran Khan.

“The Opposition will not leave the House if you do not follow today’s agenda,” he warned the speaker.

Bilawal claimed that PM Imran Khan lost the majority in the House, adding that the Opposition has the required numbers to topple the government.

Criticising the premier, the PPP leader said that PM Imran Khan ran away cowardly from the House and termed the “undemocratic and unconstitutional advice” given to the prime minister as a “conspiracy to wrap up the democratic system in the county.”

Recalling alleged rigging in the elections, the PPP leader said that their lawmakers were forced to vote for PTI and claimed that they won the Senate elections by four votes.

He maintained that their 20 lawmakers became the victims of enforced disappearances. “PTI has lost majority because now there is no one to make them disappear,” he added.

Reacting to the “foreign conspiracy”, Bilawal said that PM Imran came up with the idea of a foreign plot when he lost the majority in the house. He maintained that the no-trust motion did not come under discussion in the NSC meeting.

“They are ready to sacrifice the speaker to evade voting on the no-trust motion,” he added. The PPP leader said that they wanted to create a crisis in the country to pave the way for dictatorship and military rule.

“PM Imran Khan could be disqualified by the court. We can stage a sit-in against him,” Bilawal said, adding that they opted to dislodge him through the democratic way.

‘Opposition will oust selected PM today’: Shahbaz

At the beginning of the session, the speaker allowed Shahbaz to begin his speech. But as soon as he started speaking, several of the 151 PTI MNAs present in the House started interrupting him by chanting slogans. 

Shahbaz told the speaker to conduct the session as per the order of the Supreme Court and added that today, the Opposition will oust the “selected” prime minister by adopting a lawful and constitutional procedure. 

At this, the speaker interjected a remark and said that the House should hold a discussion about the “foreign conspiracy” hatched against the PTI government. 

Continuing his address, Shahbaz said that April 7 was the “brightest day” in the history of Pakistan when the Supreme Court of Pakistan acknowledged the “unconstitutional act” of the NA speaker, deputy speaker and prime minister and declared it “null and void”.

“The apex court did not take the support of the doctrine of necessity but instead buried it forever; making Pakistan’s future brightest,” he said, adding that the entire nation is thankful.

He urged the NA speaker to conduct proceedings in accordance with the SC’s directives, warning him that he [Asad Qaiser] will violate the constitution if he takes up any other agenda, including the foreign conspiracy”.

The Opposition leader read the following para from the written verdict of the SC order:

“Under the court’s directives, you are bound to take up this agenda item and no other item. That is the intent of the order and you cannot deviate from it,” he.

Amid protest from the Opposition benches, Shahbaz called on the speaker to hold voting on the motion forthwith.

Replying to his demand and constant reminder of the apex court’s verdict, the speaker said: “The SC’s orders will be followed in true letter and spirit.” 

‘Vote, vote, vote, and nothing but vote’: Zardari

Ex-president Asif Ali Zardari drew the attention of the speaker to the order of the day. “Today is the voting day.”

“They are hunters, cricketers, politicians, and are running the country in a good manner […] then why are the exports the same as they were during my tenure,” Zardari asked the government.

The ex-president said there were several things that the PTI leaders would learn someday. “The PPP is the only party that has a political university, and they have several students of ours in their camp.”

“Please don’t waste time; let this reach its end,” Zardari said as he noted that once Pakistan has political stability, the economic conditions would gradually improve.

“Due to the Supreme Court’s decision, the market went up by 700% and the dollar spiralled by Rs3.5, but they (government) cannot see this as they do not care [for stability],” Zardari said.

“…all I am asking you is: vote, vote, vote, and nothing but vote […] I do not want to against you (Asad Qaiser) to the Supreme Court and tell the court that you are guilty of contempt,” the PPP co-chairman said. 

‘SC’s ruling interference in proceedings of Parliament’: Asad Umar

Planning Minister Asad Umar claimed that the Supreme Court’s declaration of the deputy speaker’s ruling was “interference in the proceedings of the Parliament.”

“If Supreme Court has to decide on which day and at what time the session will be summoned then we should do away with assembly,” said Umar. He added that the apex court’s decision was “an interference in Parliament’s matters”.

“Would it have been right if the Parliament had intervened in Supreme Court’s matters?” asked Umar. He also questioned whether it would have been right if the Parliament decided which judge comes and goes in the Parliament.

“Would it have been right if Parliament decides which case is heard when? We have to decide that no one can challenge the Parliament’s rights,” said Umar.

The minister also asked the Opposition if they “believe in democracy” then they should also “believe in Parliament’s supremacy”.

“The House should unite and raise its voice that the power of Parliament belongs to no one else,” said Umar.

Opposition holds consultations 

During the delayed break, Shahbaz Sharif, along with other Opposition leaders, held consultations in their chamber to discuss the situation of the NA session. The consultative meeting discussed the strategies regarding the government.

MNAs including Asad Mahmood, Akhtar Mengal, Khalid Hussain Magsi and Shahzain Bugti were present in the meeting.

Shahbaz and Zardari discussed the government’s tactics in delaying the voting.

Supreme Court’s order

The Supreme Court had on Thursday ordered the government to hold voting on the motion on Saturday at all costs according to the agenda issued for April 3 session when the deputy speaker rejected the motion through a ruling declaring it “unconstitutional” and a “foreign conspiracy”. 

The NA agenda for Saturday (April 9). — National Assembly website
The NA agenda for Saturday (April 9). — National Assembly website

The top court’s directives came after Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial took suo motu notice of Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri’s ruling and the subsequent dissolution of the assembly, declaring all the decisions unconstitutional.

As per the order of the Supreme Court voting is to be held at all costs today and in case the PM is voted out, the election of a new Leader of the House will be held during the same session. The voting on the no-confidence motion is at the fourth position in the six-point agenda issued for today.

Speaker Asad Qaiser could not take up agenda other than voting on the motion and if he did not do so, he would have to face contempt of court proceedings. 

It is pertinent to mention here that the Opposition has submitted the no-confidence motions against the speaker and deputy speaker, however, Asad Qaiser can chair today’s session according to the rules.

‘Will form coalition govt’: Shahbaz

Prior to the commencement of the session, Shahbaz, while sharing his future plans, said he would form a collation government comprising all the Opposition parties, adding, “it will not be only PML-N’s government.”

The PML-N leader was speaking to the media after arriving at the assembly.

When asked if he would take PM Imran Khan to trial or pardon him if the no-trust motion against him succeeds, Shahbaz said: “Why do you ask such questions which I cannot answer?”

Joint Opposition’s parliamentary session

Hours ahead of the session, the joint Opposition held a meeting to prepare a strategy for today where, according to PML-N spokesperson Marrriyum Aurangzeb, 175 lawmakers were present. 

The meeting was attended by top opposition leaders including Bilawal and others. 

During the meeting, opposition leaders said that voting on the no-confidence motion is their constitutional and democratic right. The leaders said that they will “not compromise on the voting today”.

Opposition leaders meet NA speaker

Before the NA session began, a delegation of senior Opposition leaders, including Ayaz Sadiq, Rana Sanaullah and Saad Rafiqui, met NA Speaker Asad Qaiser.

During the brief meeting, the Opposition members reiterated the Supreme Court’s verdict and discussed the orders and rules of the assembly.

The Opposition delegation clarified that “no other agenda can be taken in line with the orders of the court and the rules of the assembly.”

“The no-confidence motion is a parliamentary, democratic, and constitutional initiative,” the delegation told the NA speaker.

They warned Qaiser that if anything else is discussed, it will be “contempt of court and unconstitutional.”

‘I had seen proofs regarding foreign conspiracy’: NA deputy speaker

Speaking to Geo News, NA Deputy Speaker Qasim Khan Suri said that he is a “patriotic person” and passed the April 3 ruling on the basis of facts.

“I did not breach any law I had seen the proofs regarding the ‘foreign conspiracy’ and ‘threat letter’ before passing the ruling,” he maintained.

It is worth mentioning that out of the 133 members of the treasury benches only 51 MNAs are present in the assembly.

NA speaker duty-bound to proceed with no-trust motion

The National Assembly officials told Geo News that according to the SC larger bench’s written order, the NA Speaker has been made duty-bound to proceed with the no-trust motion against Prime Minister Imran Khan as per the April 3 agenda of the National Assembly.

The NA officials said that the voting on the no-trust motion could take place within seven days of its submission and last Sunday (April 3) was the last day of voting, so SC’s larger bench ordered the speaker to revive the April 3 agenda of the National Assembly and conduct voting on the no-confidence motion. Therefore, today (April 9) will be considered the last day (seventh day) of voting on the no-confidence motion and it is essential to move with the set agenda.

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government contests Imran Khan and Qureshi’s exoneration in the cipher case

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On Thursday, the federal government led by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif filed a lawsuit in the Supreme Court contesting the exoneration of former Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and former Prime Minister Imran Khan in the well-known cipher case.

Citing procedural and jurisdictional issues, the Ministry of Interior has appealed the Islamabad High Court’s (IHC) ruling.

In hearing the cipher case, the High Court allegedly overreached its power, arguing that judges cannot change laws where Parliament has not expressly passed legislation.

Despite receiving government-funded legal representation, the petition emphasized Imran Khan and Shah Mehmood Qureshi’s lack of cooperation during the trial, submitting 65 separate motions and neglecting to cross-examine witnesses.

The petition contended that in order for a retrial to satisfy legal standards, the High Court should have ignored important evidence that was given during the trial. It requests that the appeals contesting the IHC’s June 3 acquittal be given a hearing date by the Supreme Court.

Case history

The cipher issue concerns a supposed diplomatic document that disappeared from Imran Khan’s custody. The cipher allegedly contained threats from the US to remove Khan from office, according to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party. Shah Mehmood Qureshi and several aides, including Asad Umar, are named in the First Information Report (FIR) submitted by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) in accordance with Section 34 of the Pakistan Penal Code and Sections 5 and 9 of the Official Secrets Act.

The then-foreign secretary received a diplomatic cipher from Washington on March 7, 2022, according to the FIR. The lawsuit claims that by manipulating the data for their own benefit, Khan and Qureshi put the safety of the country at risk. It alleges that on March 28, 2022, Khan secretly met at his Bani Gala home and gave his Principal Secretary, Muhammad Azam Khan, instructions to change the content of the cipher to his advantage, jeopardizing national security.

The document asserts that Khan still has custody of the cipher, jeopardizing Pakistan’s encrypted messaging systems and possibly helping foreign forces, which would be detrimental to the nation. A complaint has been filed by the FIA’s Anti-Terrorism Wing against Khan, Qureshi, and other individuals for improper use of state secrets and unapproved possession of the cipher.

Acquittal by the Islamabad High Court

In the cipher case, on June 3, the IHC cleared Khan and Qureshi when Justice Aamir Farooq issued a succinct ruling in their favor. Their sentences were appealed in the case, which has since been a source of political and legal controversy, leading to their acquittal.

This acquittal and the ongoing legal and political struggles surrounding the cipher case are highlighted by the government’s subsequent move to contest it.

With potentially huge ramifications for the parties involved and the larger political scene, the Supreme Court’s decision over whether to hear the appeal will be keenly scrutinized.

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Shahid Khaqan Abbasi urges political stability in order to accelerate economic expansion.

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Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, the former prime minister, emphasized on Thursday how important political stability is to Pakistan’s economic development and how the nation cannot prosper without it.

His concern was that export growth had not progressed, and he emphasized that stability in the current climate is vital to draw investments and carry out the necessary reforms.

In his criticism of the tax system, Abbasi brought up the erratic nature of tax laws and the transient nature of the most recent tax slab implementation. Insisting that difficult choices are unavoidable for economic recovery, he emphasized the necessity of designing a tax system that is equitable and does not burden the people.

Furthermore, arguing that the effectiveness of organizations like the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and National Accountability Bureau (NAB) is essential for economic governance and transparency, Abbasi urged for changes within these and other organizations.

Abbasi, in his discussion of more comprehensive fiscal plans, suggested that the National Finance Commission (NFC) award be reviewed again and that power distribution companies (DISCOs) be decentralized to the provinces.

In order to reduce inefficiencies and corruption at the provincial level, he recommended looking into ways to share the cost of defense spending and decentralize the management of energy resources.

In closing, Abbasi emphasized that Pakistan’s economic trajectory will stay stagnant unless comprehensive changes are implemented immediately. To move the nation towards sustainable progress, he urged policymakers to give stability and structural reforms first priority.

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Through in-app QR payments, Zindigi and SBP streamline transactions involving sacrificial animals.

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With its in-app QR code payment system based on Raast, Zindigi—powered by JS Bank—has elevated the convenience of cashless payments for the procurement of sacrificial animals to a whole new level for Eid ul Adha.

This program uses QR code payments to streamline transactions for sacrificed animals for the general public and traders. It is a component of the State Bank of Pakistan’s Raast quick payment service.

This feature enables users of Zindigi and users of any digital banking apps or wallets to safely and easily make payments at certain cattle markets throughout Pakistan using Zindigi QR. The consumer must scan the QR code of the livestock merchant and pay the transaction amount in order to complete the payment.

In order to further financial inclusion and digital innovation in Pakistan’s developing economy, Zindigi and the State Bank of Pakistan have partnered. Both organizations are committed to improving the efficiency and accessibility of financial services, especially on holidays such as Eid ul Adha, by utilizing the most recent developments in fintech.

One of the most important steps toward promoting financial inclusion and economic empowerment at the local level is the integration of livestock markets into the digital economy. Farmers and retailers may take charge of their financial operations and help realize the larger goal of an inclusive digital Pakistan by adopting digital payments.

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