ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) dissident MNAs on Friday assailed the grounds for declarations and references seeking their disqualification under Article 63A of the Constitution ahead of the no-trust vote against former premier Imran Khan, and insisted that they were still members of the party.

In their written replies submitted to the Election Commission of Pakis­tan, the defected MNAs said they had neither resigned from the PTI nor had joined any other political party.

The declaration and the reference were “baseless, unsubstantiated and vague”, one reply read.

“It has been actuated by bad faith in order to suppress a voice of dissent within the party lines. Such actions are tantamount to converting the party into an authoritarian group commanded in a dictatorial mindset of one individual,” the reply said.

“This further tends to infringe the right to express the opinion of members within the party discipline. In the instant case, not a speck of evidence has been brought forth to demonstrate that the declaration and the reference are sustainable on any of the touchstones mentioned in Article 63A(1a) of the Constitution,” it added.

It said the allegations were vague, inchoate and flimsy and pertained to alleged conduct and actions outside the precinct of the parliament.

Therefore, these allegations could not be made the basis for setting up a case in the realm of the said article. It said: “These are mere assumptions and supposition and anything resting on surmises and conjectures deserves a summary rejection. The instant case is a glaring example of frivolousness, which is liable to be rejected summarily.”

Another reply submitted to the ECP said the reference and the declaration did not fulfil the mandatory requirements under Article 63A.

It said the declaration was liable to be set aside and consequently the reference should be rejected. One dissident also raised questions over the composition of the ECP, saying an incomplete commission could not decide the case.

The commission took up the hearing of the disqualification references against 45 dissident members of the national and provincial assemblies.

PTI lawyer Faisal Chaudhry requested time to read the dissident members’ replies and stated that he would begin arguments after reading all the statements. Shah Muhammad Jatoi, ECP’s Balochistan member, noted that the commission would decide on the matter by May 14.

The chief election commissioner (CEC) further emphasised that in either case, the arguments should be completed by Tuesday to ensure sufficient time was available for decision-making. The ECP directed the parties to present their arguments. The next hearing is set for May 10.

Later, Advocate Faisal Chaudhry told reporters there was sufficient material available to refute the claims made by dissident MNAs, who he said could be disqualified for life over filing false affidavits.

Published in Dawn, May 7th, 2022

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