Do Khattak mulls over dissolving KP Assembly?

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Speculations are rife that Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Chief Minister Pervaiz Khattak is considering moving Governor Iqbal Zafar Jhagra for dissolution of the provincial assembly to pre-empt the perceived opposition move to file a no-trust motion against him, after he apparently lost majority in the legislature.

On the other hand, opposition parties and ‘disgraced MPAs’ of PTI are also at the advance stage of filing a no-trust motion to stone-wall any possibility of dissolution of the assembly. “We are looking for turning the tables on Khattak and get installed our own chief minister, who will then name a caretaker chief minister,” one opposition MPA told The News.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf-led government in the province enjoyed itself comfortable majority of (support) of 73 MPAs in the House. However, the party’s decision of sending show-cause notices to 20 of its lawmakers a day earlier, showed, as if the Khattak government had lost majority to rule the province.

PTI Chairman Imran Khan at a news conference Wednesday described the 20 MPAs as saleable commodity and vowed to refer their cases to NAB, if they failed to satisfy the party on why they voted against the party policy in the recent Senate election.

“Yes, I can confirm that the option is under consideration since the party announced to throw 20 lawmakers out of the party for their indulgence in horse-trading. And, yes the option was deliberated upon during a meeting at Banigala, prior to the news conference,” a senior party member, who is also close to KP government, told The News. He predicted that next 24 hours were crucial in this connection.

In the 124-member assembly, PTI had 61 MPAs, four joined it afterwards while eight lawmakers, belonging to Jamaat-e-Islami also supported the coalition government in the province. However, following the Wednesday’s development, Chief Minister finds himself in a tricky position with a looming threat of a no-confidence move by the opposition.

This correspondent made several attempts, but neither Minister for Information and government Spokesman Shah Farman was available nor Minister for Higher Education Mushtaq Ghani. “I have no idea about this, please contact government spokesman,” was the response to a SMS, sent to Ghani on his cell phone while Shah Farman did not respond to a text message even.

However, a central PTI leader, requesting anonymity, denied that the party okayed or the provincial government was going for dissolution of the assembly. “Why should we do that, even if there is a talk of losing majority, the no-trust move process is lengthy while the assembly will be completing its term on May 28. I don’t think, there is a chance of assembly dissolution,” he claimed.

Article 112 of the Constitution says that the government shall dissolve the provincial assembly if so advised by the chief minister; and the provincial assembly shall, unless sooner dissolved, stand dissolved at the expiration of forty-eight hours after the chief minister has so advised.

The article also explains that the reference in this article to chief minister shall not be construed to include reference to a chief minister against whom a notice of a resolution for a vote of no-confidence has been given in the provincial assembly but has not been voted upon against who a resolution for a vote of no-confidence has been passed.

“The governor may also dissolve the provincial assembly in his discretion, but subject to previous approval by the president, where a vote of no-confidence having been passed against the chief minister, no other member of the provincial assembly commands the confidence of the majority of the members of the provincial assembly in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution, as ascertained in a session of the provincial assembly summoned for the purpose,” the article says.