The estranged lawmaker of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), Ayesha Gulalai, on Tuesday rejected all the allegations levelled against her by the party as she submitted a reply before the Election Commission of Pakistan in a reference filed by National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq for deseating the lawmaker.
In her written reply, Gulalai argued that the allegations in the said reference were “baseless and misleading”.
“The reference is an attempt to silence me for raising my voice against harassment,” Gulalai said.
Gulalai has been accused of abstaining from voting for the PTI’s designated candidate in the recent elections for the office of prime minister, which the party believed constituted a valid and actionable ground under Articles 63A(1)(a) and 63A(1)(b)(i) for declaring her a defector.
“I couldn’t attend the NA session due to illness,” Gulalai maintained in her reply.
The counsel for PTI also submitted documents against the former party lawmaker.
The ECP asked both sides' counsels to present their arguments in the next hearing and adjourned the proceedings until September 26.
PTI chairman Imran Khan had declared Gulalai a defector and written to the NA speaker and the chief election commissioner (CEC), seeking commencement of the process for her disqualification.
Article 63A of the Constitution deals with the circumstances under which a lawmaker can be disqualified on grounds of defection.
Inserted by the 18th Amendment, the first two sub-clauses of the article state that the lawmakers can be disqualified if they either resign from membership of their party or join another party, or “vote or abstain from voting in the house contrary to any direction issued by the parliamentary party to which they belong” with regard to the election of the prime minister.
Such a lawmaker “may be declared in writing by the head of the parliamentary party to have defected from the political party, and the head of the parliamentary party may forward a copy of the declaration to the presiding officer, and shall similarly forward a copy thereof to the member concerned”.
The PTI letter also mentioned a show-cause notice issued to Ms Gulalai on Aug 10, arguing that since she did not respond to it, she had “acquiesced to the issuance of the declaration against [her]”.
On August 1, Gulalai had announced her exit from the party amid a flurry of scathing allegations against Imran Khan and other top party members.
Gulalai made the announcement moments before the election of a new prime minister, citing "ill-treatment" of women in the party as the reason behind her decision. She claimed that she had communicated her grievances to the party leadership but no action had been taken.
Prior to her resignation Gulalai, who is a former PPP member, had been a staunch and vocal supporter of the PTI and Imran Khan, often featuring in prime time talkshows to defend party policies.