ISLAMABAD: Former speaker of the National Assembly Asad Qaiser signs his resignation from the assembly on Monday.—White Star
ISLAMABAD: Former speaker of the National Assembly Asad Qaiser signs his resignation from the assembly on Monday.—White Star

ISLAMABAD: Acting on a last-minute decision of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf leadership, all PTI lawmakers, except party dissidents, resigned from the National Assembly en masse on Monday before the scheduled voting began for electing new prime minister.

The 135 MNAs gave their resignations though some of them half-heartedly after the PTI’s parliamentary party meeting that was presided over by former prime minister and PTI chairman Imran Khan in a committee room at Parliament House.

After the latest move, PTI dissidents are expected to share the opposition benches along with members of the erstwhile PTI-led ruling coalition partners Grand Democratic Alliance and Pakistan Muslim League (Quaid).

A spokesman for the PTI claimed that 135 MNAs of the party gave their resignations whereas 20 dissidents had been expelled from the party.

When contacted, ex-minister Fawad Chaudhry confirmed to Dawn about the divide in the PTI ranks over the issue of resignations. He said Mr Khan vehemently said he was going to resign even if others wanted to stay in the NA. He quoted Mr Khan as saying: “We have decided not to sit in the assembly where Leader of the House is corrupt and imported.”

Shortly before the meeting, Mr Khan talked to the media persons and said: “Respect and disgrace are in hands of Allah Almighty.”

Mr Chaudhry said nearly half of the PTI lawmakers who attended the meeting were of the opinion that they all should not resign, as by leaving the NA seats vacant, they would be providing an open field to the PML-N government to do any kind of legislation it desired.

On this, he said, Mr Khan termed the situation ‘not a normal’ one. “In this situation, the PTI has to launch a massive campaign against imported government and we have to do politics of street instead of the parliament,” Mr Chaudhry quoted the party leadership as telling party members.

Two day ago, he said, the PTI leadership was considering whether to go for mass resignations or not but finally decided to go for mass resignations after witnessing unprecedented reaction of party supporters on streets across the country following the removal of the PTI government. “The public reaction compelled the PTI leadership to finally go for resignation,” he added.

Rejecting the plan announced by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif that the issue of the ‘lettergate’ would be examined by the parliamentary committee on national security, Mr Chaudhry demanded that a judicial commission should be formed under supervision of the Supreme Court. “If the issue goes to the parliamentary committee, the government will manage to get a desired decision,” he feared.

About the resignation of 135 party members, Mr Chaudhry said all resignations had been sent to NA Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri and the latter “might have accepted” them.

Asked under the Constitution, every MNA [after submission of the resignation] has to appear separately before the NA Speaker to endorse that they had given resignation according to their will without any pressure, the PTI leader said there was an opinion that once the members had loudly informed the speaker in the House that they were resigning, then there would be no need to appear separately before the NA Speaker.

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader Khwaja Saad Rafiq said the PML-N government wanted to run the House by taking all parties along and the door of talks with the PTI would not close. He suggested the PTI to return to the assembly for positive opposition, whereas Mr Chaudhry asserted that the PTI would never talk to the PML-N government and its decision to quit was final.

Also in 2014 during the last PML-N regime, PTI lawmakers had given mass resignations, which remained pending, as each lawmaker did not give endorsement about the resignations separately before the speaker.

Imran begins protest tomorrow

In late-night tweets, former prime minister Imran Khan announced his plan to reach out to the masses against his unceremonious ouster

“On Wednesday I will be holding a jalsa in Peshawar after Isha — my first jalsa after being removed through a foreign-instigated regime change. I want all our people to come, as Pakistan was created as an independent, sovereign state not as a puppet state of foreign powers,” Mr Khan said.” We are demanding immediate ele­c­tions as that is the only way forward — to let the people dec­ide, through fair and free elections, whom they want as their prime minister.”

Published in Dawn, April 12th, 2022

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