ISLAMABAD: Getting tough on violators of party discipline, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) on Thursday suspended the basic membership of 10 more party activists and members.
Those punished included former district nazim of Khushab Ahsan Tiwana for allegedly supporting rival candidates in the recent local government elections in Punjab.
Sources said the PTI was also exploring legal options to get its four dissident members of the National Assembly de-seated for ‘constantly confronting’ the party policy in parliament.
According to a PTI statement, the party’s regional president Amir Mehmood Kiyani had suspended the basic membership of the chairmen of various union councils of Khushab who had allegedly supported the PML-N candidates during the final phase of the local bodies elections.
Exploring options to get four dissident MNAs de-seated
The PTI last week suspended the basic membership of more than two dozen members and activists, including a member of the provincial assembly, belonging to Mianwali, Faisalabad, Attock and Narowal districts.
The ruling PML-N made a clean sweep in the final phase of the local government elections in Punjab. According to unofficial results, it won the chairman slot in 30 district councils, with both the Peoples Party and PTI being unable to get the top position in any of the districts.
The PTI sources said that in order to send a strong message to other members before finalising candidates for the next general elections, the party leadership was looking for options to get the four MNAs de-seated who had not submitted their resignations in response to the party’s call in 2014 and later continued to attend the National Assembly sessions despite the party’s boycott decision.
The four MNAs are: Gulzar Khan from Peshawar, Siraj Muhammad Khan from Nowshera, Nasir Khattak from Karak and Mussarat Ahmadzeb, who was elected on a seat reserved for women.
The sources said the issue of the dissident MNAs came under discussion during a recent meeting of the party’s discipline committee.
PTI chief Imran Khan had written to NA Speaker Ayaz Sadiq on Sept 24, 2014, asking him as well as the chief election commissioner to consider the seats of three MNAs (excluding Siraj Khan) vacated under Article 63A of the Constitution.
The PTI chairman, in three separate letters, had informed the speaker and the CEC that the basic membership of the MNAs had been terminated for not complying with the party’s decision to hand over their resignations to the leadership.
However, no action was taken by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) as Article 63A didn’t cover the charge which the PTI chairman had used to seek the ousting of the MNAs from the house.
Article 63A lays down certain preconditions, which lead to disqualification on the grounds of defection.
A member stands disqualified if he joins another party; or votes or abstains from voting in the house contrary to any direction issued by the party, in relation to (i) election of the prime minister or a vote of confidence or a vote of no-confidence, a money bill or a constitution (amendment) bill.
Legal experts believe that as long as this constitutional provision holds ground, neither the speaker nor the CEC could take any action in this regard.
Talking to Dawn on Thursday, PTI vice-chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi said that these MNAs had no place in the party after constantly defying the leadership.
When the constitutional provision was pointed out, he said these MNAs had extended their support to the government in getting the federal budget passed in June. He said these MNAs had helped the government maintain quorum during the budget session.
A dissident MNA, Gulzar Khan, challenged the party leadership’s decision, saying he could not be de-seated on any legal ground.
He said he had not submitted his resignation in line with the party decision in 2014 on principle grounds, adding that he had asked the party chairman that the three MPAs who had been elected from the constituencies under him should also be asked to resign.
Published in Dawn, December 30th, 2016