ISLAMABAD: Imran Khan may become the only prime minister in Pakistan’s history, who will be elected by slightly less than the mandatory simple majority or 51pc votes of the total members of the National Assembly .
The votes of a minimum of 172 MPs in the 342-member Lower House of Parliament are required to choose someone as the premier. Going by the claims made by senior Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leaders thus far, the party has by now been able to muster the support of 170 members of the National Assembly (MNAs) inducting several independents. This tally also includes the support of more than half a dozen smaller parliamentary forces and a one-man party.
The PTI still has time, at least a week, available to mobilise cooperation of more MPs-elect to meet or even exceed the magic figure. So far, no member of any opposition party has broken away to be counted in the PTI 's numbers.
If the opinion of former chief justice of the Supreme Court Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry is attached credence, Imran Khan will not be declared successful in the first round of voting, to be held under Article 91(4), for not having obtained 172 votes. The other side – the opposition parties – will then be asked to try its luck by getting its nominee elected. Obviously, it will fail for not having been blessed with the requisite majority, 172, in the second phase. However, in the third round, Imran Khan will be elected as the premier for having bagged more votes more than his challenger but without the minimum required 51pc votes of the total membership.
It is quite likely that after by-elections will be held to the National Assembly seats to be vacated by the double, triple and quadruple seat holders of the PTI and other parties within ninety days, the PTI may be able to clinch the simple majority in the lower house but this will happen only after Imran Khan election as the prime minister with less than 172 votes. By-polls to nearly a dozen federal seats, most of them having been won by the PTI candidates including four by the PTI supremo himself, will be held.
While Imran Khan may be elected without the simple majority, he, under the Constitution, can be ousted only through a vote of no confidence motion that must be supported by at least 51pc votes of all the MNAs. The onus to produce 172 members for the approval of the no-trust resolution will be on the shoulders of its moves. Any number of the MPs staying away from such proceedings will be the loss to its sponsors. Conversely, during his election or subsequent vote of confidence, the burden shifts on Imran Khan to have the essential number of MPs voting in his favour.
The full picture of the numerical game in the National Assembly will be clear as by then the parliamentary chamber will have all its 342 seats filled. Looking at the votes all the prime ministers secured since 2002 when they were elected by the National Assembly , Mir Zafarullah Jamali had got an edge of just one vote, which was managed by bringing Azam Tariq from jail although those elections were highly rigged and manipulated. The Pakistan Muslim League-Q (PML-Q), known as the king’s party, had been carved out of the PML-Nawaz to win these polls.
Jamali was replaced by Shaukat Aziz after the military ruler of the time Pervez Musharraf became sick and tired of the man from Dera Murad Jamali and had thought that he has become a liability. After his forced resignation, PML-Q President Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain was taken as the stopgap premier while waiting for Shaukat Aziz to be elected as the MNA from Attock in a by-election. Later, Shaukat Aziz was made the prime minister with the support of 191 votes in 2004.
After the 2008 general polls that the PPP won, Yusuf Raza Gilani was elected as the premier with 264 votes. Following his ouster due to his conviction by the Supreme Court on the contempt charge, Raja Pervez Ashraf became the prime minister with the support of 211 votes of the National Assembly .
The PML-N won the May 2013 parliamentary polls, and Nawaz Sharif was elected as the premier with 244 votes. In the wake of his apex court-sanctioned expulsion from the office, his nominee Shahid Khaqan Abbasi came in and secured 221 votes in the lower house.