ISLAMABAD: Some of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) dissidents on Saturday submitted their replies to the show-cause notices issued to them by the party, and denied the charge of defection, claiming they were still part of the parliamentary group of the ruling party.

Media reports claimed that all 13 MNAs, who had been issued the notices, had submitted their replies to PTI secretary general Asad Umar over the alleged violation of party discipline. Mr Umar could not be contacted despite repeated attempts.

However, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry confirmed that four to five MNAs submitted their replies and that they were still part of the party. “I don’t remember all of them, but Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani and Dr Muhammad Afzal Khan Dhandla submitted their replies,” he claimed.

Fawad says two dissidents had assured of adhering to party discipline

The ruling PTI had given a week to 13 of its dissidents to explain their position to the party chief over the ‘defection’. Separate show-cause notices were issued with the signatures of Mr Umar, seeking an explanation by March 26 as to why they may not be declared defectors and disqualified as members of the National Assembly.

Those issued notices included Dr Dhandla (NA-98 Bhakkar-II), Nawab Sher Waseer (NA-102 Faisalabad-II), Raja Riaz Ahmad (NA-110 Faisalabad), Ahmed Hussain Deharr (NA-154 Multan), Rana Muhammad Qasim Noon (NA-159 Multan), Mohammad Abdul Ghaffar Wattoo (NA-166 Bahawalnagar), Makhdoom Zada Sayed Basit Ahmad Sultan (NA-185 Muzaffargarh), Aamir Talal Gopang (NA-186 Muzaffargarh), Sardar Riaz Mehmood Khan Mazari (NA-195 Rajanpur), Wajiha Qamar (reserved seat for women), Nuzhat Pathan (reserved seat for women), Dr Vankwani (reserved seat for non-Muslims) and Noor Alam Khan (NA-27 Peshawar).

On the other hand, sources told Dawn that the PTI dissidents had replied to the show-cause notices on the advice of their legal teams that the party may take action against them before voting on the no-trust move against the prime minister. They said the MNAs submitted the replies over the de-seating threat under Article 63(A) of the Constitution.

The notices were issued two days after the dissident lawmakers surfaced at Sindh House in Islamabad, bringing to the fore the cracks within the party, with the government accusing the opposition of purchasing loyalties of the MNAs.

The notices cited Article 63(A), stating that it bound the lawmakers to follow the directions issued by their parliamentary party, and referred to two letters, dated March 15 and March 18, in this regard. Under this provision, it added, a defecting lawmaker was to be given a chance to explain why he may not be declared a defector, hence they were being given an opportunity to have a hearing before PTI chief Imran Khan and show cause “as to why a declaration may not be issued against you for getting you de-seated from the membership of the National Assembly of Pakistan”.

The government maintains that the intent of Article 63(A) was to prevent floor-crossing by anyone who got elected in the name of a particular party, hence it permitted the disqualification of defecting lawmakers from the NA before they cast vote on the no-trust motion.

Talking to Dawn, PTI MNA from Peshawar Noor Alam Khan also confirmed that he had submitted his response to the party leadership.

APP adds: Answering a question during a media talk in Islamabad, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry claimed that two PTI MNAs had assured that they would not violate the party discipline. He said Planning and Development Minister Asad Umar had already met one of the two members.

Published in Dawn, March 27th, 2022

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