ISLAMABAD: The ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) on Monday issued a show-cause notice to Noor Alam Khan, the lawmaker from Peshawar who recently lambasted his own party leadership on the floor of the National Assembly.
According to Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry, the party had issued notices to Mr Khan for apparently “bashing” his own party leaders on the floor of the house.
A cabinet member told Dawn that Mr Khan should have raised his reservations in the party’s internal meetings instead of railing against the PTI on the floor of the house, in full view of the media.
The lawmaker has also been diagnosed with Covid-19, which is cause for concern for all those who came into contact with him during recent sittings of the lower house of parliament.
Minister says Noor Alam Khan could’ve raised concerns in internal meetings
Talking to Dawn, however, the MNA questioned Prime Minister Imran Khan’s vision of self-accountability, saying that he had been issued a show-cause notice for “raising the concerns of the people”.
During Friday’s session, Noor Alam Khan had pointed towards the first three rows of the treasury in the National Assembly and blamed them for the mess the country was in. He had demanded that all those front-benchers — including PM Khan — be put on the Exit Control List (ECL), saying this was the only way to ensure “Pakistan will survive”.
Earlier in the week, another frontline PTI leader — Defence Minister Pervez Khattak — had a showdown with PM Khan during a recent meeting of the parliamentary parties of the ruling coalition.
Noor Alam Khan had also raised the issue of the ban on new gas connections in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province in general, and in his hometown of Peshawar in particular.
Interestingly, PM Khan spent Monday in Peshawar meeting party leaders, in a move observers have termed an attempt at damage control. While there, he listed all the development projects his government had initiated in the province, which had been ignored by previous regimes.
Can action be taken against members for speaking out against their own parties? The law definitely provides a remedy for parliamentarians who violate party discipline, e.g. voting against the party whip on key occasions such as a vote of confidence or a money bill. In such cases, the party head can approach the Election Commission of Pakistan and seek their disqualification from parliament. However, there is no legal hurdle to expressing oneself on the floor of the house; in fact, all speeches made in parliament are considered protected speech and cannot become the basis for any punitive action.
When contacted, Minister of State for Information Farrukh Habib — who is also the party’s information secretary, said a show-cause notice had been issued to Noor Alam Khan, but it had not yet been served to the MNA.
Explaining the rationale behind issuing notices to the Peshawar MNA, Mr Habib said he had “violated party discipline publicly.”
When asked whether Mr Khan’s party membership had been suspended, the minister said he was not sure about suspension but he had definitely been asked to furnish a reply. However, Noor Alam Khan was adamant that he was only raising the concerns of his constituents and asked how the party could serve him a show-cause notice for doing his job.
“On what basis can PTI Provincial President Pervez Khattak serve me a show-cause notice when I am talking about the people’s problems,” he said, asking whether the prime minister had changed his narrative against corruption and self accountability.
He told Dawn he wanted to reply to the show-cause notice on the floor of parliament, but could not attend the current session due to his illness.
Published in Dawn, January 18th, 2022