PESHAWAR, Dec 15: Both factions of Pakistan Muslim League in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly have suffered a major setback after their lawmakers changed loyalties and joined rival political parties in the house.

Despite several defections, leadership of the two parties seems to be shy of taking action against the defectors. Under the constitution, the affected party’s leader in the house will send a reference through the office of the Speaker against the member for changing loyalty and will ask for his/her disqualification.

The strength of Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid has reduced from seven to only two in the provincial assembly after its five lawmakers defected to Pakistan People’s Party, Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz.

Similarly, MPAs Munawar Khan and Shazia Aurangzeb of PML-N have joined the JUI-F and PPP, respectively. PML-N’s another member Advocate Mehr Sultana says that she has decided to say goodbye to her party, and she may join the PPP or JUI-F soon.

Ms Sultana said that she had been negotiating a deal with the PPP and JUI-F, and if her demands were accepted she would join one the parties. She complained that she had been ignored that was why she was looking for another suitable party.

Two PML-Q members from Shangla district -- Fazlullah and Mohammad Rashad Khan -- followed their mentor MNA Amir Muqam and joined the PML-N.

Sanaullah Khan Miankhel, a stalwart of the PML-Q from Dera Ismail Khan, has gone to PML-N, while the party’s outspoken female lawyer Nighat Yasmin Orakzai joined the PPP. Wajehuz Zaman Khan from Mansehra district has already quit his party and joined the PML like-mind group.

Under Article 63A of the Constitution if a member of a parliamentary party composed of a single political party in a House: (a) resigns from membership of his political party or joins another parliamentary party, he may be declared in writing by the party head to have defected from the political party, and the party head may forward a copy of the declaration to the presiding officer and the Chief Election Commissioner and shall similarly forward a copy thereof to the member concerned.

However, these days parties’ parliamentary leaders have kept silence over defection of their members and none of the parties have sent a reference to the Election Commission of Pakistan against them. When contacted, PML-Q parliamentary leader in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly Qalandar Khan Lodhi said that his party had no intention to take action against the MPAs for changing their loyalties.

“Let them go to join other parties. The PML-Q has no plan to take action,” said Mr Lodhi whose own future is unclear. However, Mr Lodhi said that he and his colleague in the assembly – Ghulam Mohammad from Chitral – would remain with the party till completion of tenure of the sitting parliament.

The PML-N has also adopted the same strategy and is yet to initiate legal process against deserters. PML-N legislator Sardar Shamoonyar Khan, however, said that the party had served a show-cause notice on Shazia Aurangzeb who was elected on reserved seat. He said that after receiving explanation the party would decide whether to send a reference against her. Defiant Shazia said that she was ready to give the reply, but the party should first serve a show-cause notice on Munawar Khan, who had joined the JUI-F.

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