Another Assembly Completes Its Tenure, Another Prime Minister Disqualified

Another Assembly Completes Its Tenure, Another Prime Minister Disqualified
The 15th National Assembly of Pakistan will complete its five-year term on Wednesday.

As has become a tradition for every assembly since 1973, the Prime Minister elected by the House at the start of the term was not the one who saw out the last session of the house.

The assembly was sworn in on Monday, August 13, 2018. After 1,823 days, the assembly will stand dissolved. Interestingly, the number of days it lived includes the year of its creation and the year of its culmination, 18 and 23.

The same assembly has had two leaders of the houses and, by extension, two Prime Ministers. Similarly, it had two speakers and two deputy speakers.

Imran Khan was elected as the leader of the House on Friday, August 17, 2018. The very next day, on Saturday, August 18, 2023, Imran Khan was administered the oath for Prime Minister, and sworn in as the 22nd premier by President Mamnoon Hussain.

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He remained the Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan for 1,331 days or three years, seven months and 23 days.

On April 9, Saturday, 2022, a vote of no-confidence was passed against him - the first to succeed against any sitting Prime Minister in Pakistan's history - and at the stroke of midnight, as the date changed to April 10, 2022, Khan was removed from office.

Shehbaz Sharif secured a vote of confidence from the house the next day, on Monday, April 11, 2022. He was unanimously elected as the leader of the house by a coalition cobbled together with all opposition parties, and some parties who decided to separate their paths from the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and provide them with a crash course on participatory democracy.

The former Chief Minister of Punjab, whose narrow shoulders were burdened with leading his party after his elder brother was pushed into exile for a second time, was administered the oath of office as the 23rd Prime Minister of Pakistan on the same day. Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani administered the oath, after President Dr Arif Alvi feigned illness.

Shehbaz Sharif, the 23rd Prime Minister of Pakistan, held office for 486 days, or one year, three months and 30 days.

Sharif oversaw a period of tough challenges, whether inherited in the form of a flagging economy on the brink of fiscal default or an emerging one in the form of political challenges from Imran Khan. These two fronts kept him fully occupied amidst other domestic disturbances, such as floods and the return of terrorism.

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The events that came to pass during the tenure of this assembly solidified a new but deeply worrying trend in Pakistan. Three Prime Ministers, elected by three successive Parliaments over the past decade and a half, have stood disqualified from contesting elections at the end of these Parliaments. A troubling indictment of the elected by the unelected.

Yousaf Raza Gillani was disqualified by the Supreme Court after he was symbolically sentenced to 30 seconds in April 2012. Nawaz Sharif, who was elected Prime Minister in 2013, stood disqualified shortly before the 2018 elections after he was sentenced to 10 years in jail for corruption charges related to the ownership of four luxury flats in London. Imran Khan, who was elected as Prime Minister in 2018, has now been sentenced and disqualified from contesting public office for five years mere days before the Parliament stands dissolved.

The writer is a journalist based in Islamabad