PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Sunday clarified that the party has yet to decide on resigning from the National Assembly, negating fellow party leader Fawad Chaudhry's claim made hours earlier that the party's MNAs were to tender their resignations en masse on Monday.
During his appearance on ARY News show Sawal Ye Hai, Qureshi said: "Today, the party's core committee had a meeting under Imran Khan's chairmanship."
He said that apart from finalising his name as PTI's candidate for prime minister's election opposite Shehbaz Sharif, it was also discussed if the party should remain in the National Assembly in the current circumstances.
"There was a discussion on this issue, but a final decision was not taken. The former prime minister decided to call a meeting of the party's parliamentary committee for tomorrow at 12pm. The opinion of those who are standing by him in these tough times will be sought. A final decision will be taken after that meeting."
When asked what the dominating opinion regarding the resignations in the party was, Qureshi said: "Whatever Imran Khan wants will happen. He will take the decision and whatever the decision is, will be accepted by all.
"However, ours is a democratic party and Imran Khan listens to everyone's opinion and then decides. In my personal opinion, and from what I've gathered during discussions, a clear majority of the party members think that we should protest inside the assembly and also make contact with the public outside."
He said, if Khan does decide to go for resignations, the party's "ideological members would accept and tender resignations whenever asked for".
Chaudhry and Rashid's claim to the contrary earlier in the day
Chaudhry, in an afternoon press talk earlier, had announced that his party had decided to resign from the assembly, a day after former prime minister Imran Khan lost his government via a successful no-confidence move.
The decision to resign, he said, was tied up with the acceptance of PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif's nomination papers for prime minister's elections, to which the PTI had raised objections. In a later development, the NA Secretariat rejected the objections and accepted Shehbaz's nomination.
Talking to the media in Islamabad with a host of other PTI leaders and officials, Chaudhry said a meeting of the PTI's central core executive committee (CEC) was held in Bani Gala with Imran Khan where "the whole situation was analysed".
He said the CEC recommended to Khan that the PTI should resign from the assemblies starting with the National Assembly. "If our objections on Shehbaz Sharif's [nomination] papers are not addressed then we will resign tomorrow," he said.
Elaborating on the PTI's decision to nominate its Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi for the prime minister's position after a successful vote of no-confidence against Khan, Chaudhry said that contesting the election offered the party a way to challenge Shehbaz's nomination papers.
He said it was a "great injustice" that Shehbaz would be contesting the election for the prime minister on the same day he is to be indicted in a money laundering case.
"What can be more insulting for Pakistan that a foreign selected and foreign imported government is imposed on it and a person like Shehbaz is made its head," he rued.
It is pertinent to mention that a special court (Central-I) of the Federal Investigation Agency is likely to indict Shehbaz and son Hamza in Rs14 billion money laundering case on Monday (April 11).
Referring to the situation around the successful no-trust vote, Chaudhry said that there were no "two opinions" in the PTI's CEC meeting that it was anything other than a "very big conspiracy".
"It was a foreign regime change operation that happened here," he said. "We think this is a slap on [the face of] people of Pakistan. We reject it. The whole nation expects leadership from Imran Khan and expects from PTI that they'll come out on streets [against] this foreign conspiracy."
On the PTI CEC and Imran Khan's behalf, he appealed to the public to come out and protest after Isha prayers in their respective district headquarters. The PTI later released a schedule of protests in several cities across the country.
Chaudhry said that if the PTI "disappointed people" now and Khan did not lead a massive movement then it would amount to a "betrayal with the country's politics and Constitution". He said a fuller plan would be provided later and the country would move towards new elections in the next few weeks and months.
"Whoever has created this [political] crisis has engaged in enmity with the state. We think the crisis got more complicated due to the Supreme Court's decision," he said, referring to the apex court's Thursday order to restore the National Assembly and the no-confidence motion.
Referring to yesterday night's events when the Islamabad High Court and Supreme Court opened their gates late night, Chaudhry said that such activity was "immensely disliked" by the public, which was now expressing their opinion on social media about the events.
"Until we don't throw this government out and until it stays, no institution of Pakistan will have any sanctity," he added.
Questioned on the "trolling" of Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial and his family, allegedly at the hands PTI supporters, Chaudhry distanced himself from such elements, saying that the party had "no control over social media".
"We can only influence our known people and can't control everyone's mind so the people who have a problem that [trolling] is being done against them on social media, kindly don't blame us."
Awami Muslim League chief, Sheikh Rashid, a key ally of the PTI, who spoke before Chaudhry, was more direct in the resignations announcement.
"It has been decided that we can't be involved with these thieves and dacoits in the assembly. Everyone decided with a unanimous consensus that we are going to resign en masse from the NA," he said. "All members will resign."