ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) on Monday said that they have decided to resign from the National Assembly and all provincial assemblies except Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The resignations are to be submitted to the relevant speakers tomorrow morning.
The announcement was made by PTI leader Shah Mehmood Qureshi, who said that the decision was made after all other options were exhausted by the party in their protests against alleged rigging in the May 2013 general elections.
Qureshi said that discussions are still being held regarding resignations from the K-P Assembly, as they wish to discuss the issue with coalition partners.
Qureshi said that the approach of the government and PTI is as different as day and night.
"Nawaz said the election was the cleanest in Pakistan's history; we said that it was the worst. He says that the Election Commission was independent, we say it was biased.
"They said that the caretaker government was decided by consensus, we say that two political parties decided the caretaker government..."
The announcement comes after PTI chief Imran Khan led thousands of supporters from Lahore to rally in Islamabad to demand the government resign.
On Sunday he appealed to the people to stop paying utility bills and taxes to the current government, accusing Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of plundering the national wealth to enrich his business empire.
Khan and populist cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri, who led his own "long march" from Lahore, claim the May 2013 general election which Sharif won in a landslide was rigged.
They had promised to mobilise hundreds of thousands of supporters to capitalise on popular dissatisfaction with the corruption, power cuts and insecurity that blight daily life in Pakistan and oust the government.
But Khan was left looking increasingly isolated on Monday as mass support failed to materialise and other opposition parties refused to rally to his call.
'PTI is going according to plan'
When asked why Imran Khan did not announce this decision during Sunday’s address to the sit-in participants, Imran Ismail said, “This is the script. PTI is going according to plan.”
He also said that, as planned, the PTI will march to the Red Zone Tuesday evening if the prime minister does not hand in his resignation.
“We will try to be as non-violent as possible. But we also understand that a crowd this large is difficult to control. Khan will appeal to them to remain peaceful.”
Build-up to resignations
This issue of resignations was also discussed during a stormy session at Khan's Bani Gala residence Sunday in which drastic options such as PTI parliamentarians’ resignation from the National Assembly and the dissolution of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provincial assembly came up for discussion.
An official from within the PTI claimed that the chairman and a few ‘hawks’ were in favour of the resignation and the dissolution along with the announcement of the civil disobedience movement.
However, the others poured cold water over these ambitious plans.
Among others, the majority of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa parliamentarians, including its Chief Minister Pervez Khattak, opposed the move.
“It will be political suicide; this will not serve the party’s cause,” one participant was quoted as saying.
Those from the KP had argued that the provincial government was the party’s best chance at proving their governance capabilities.
On the other hand, the hawks argued that the resignation from assemblies would strengthen their one-point agenda to push for fresh election.
PTI MNAs submit resignations
Qureshi on late Monday announced that all PTI MNAs have submitted their resignations.
"Today, MNA Murad Saeed and MNA Dawar Khan Kundi have also given their resignations," Qureshi said while addressing the PTI supporters.
He added, "Now, entire PTI leadership have presented themselves before the people of Pakistan."