Senior PTI leader and former National Assembly speaker Asad Qaiser has said that the party could return to the lower house of parliament if Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif announced a date for general elections.
The statement comes after Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial suggested the PTI should ask its legislators to return to parliament since voters had elected them for five years.
Speaking to DawnNewsTV’s Adil Shahzeb on Thursday night, Qaiser said the party had not thought about or deliberated on returning to the NA.
“We only think that it is not in the country’s interest for the current government to remain in power.”
Questioning the anchor, Qaiser asked him whether he could bear to pay the current electricity bills. “Life is getting harder. The main reason for that is that they don’t have the mandate, they are weak.”
He went on to say that the biggest challenge at the moment was the country’s economy. Even if you negotiated a deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), look at where the dollar is going, he said, adding that petrol prices were also increasing.
Qaiser said that returning to parliament was an “option”. But for that, the prime minister has to make the offer himself and he should commit to announcing a date for elections.
The former speaker said the party could consider rejoining the NA if there was a need for legislating or passing amendment regarding election reforms, stressing that PTI chief Imran Khan was also of the same view.
“I am telling you about the party policy. But first they need to decide on [a date] for elections and dissolving the assemblies,” he said, reiterating that the PTI was “ready” for electoral reforms.
“But the date of elections must not be too long.”
Talking about the calls for the PTI to dissolve the provincial assemblies of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab, Qaiser said the option was “still alive”.
“That option is being debated upon […] some party members think it should be taken, some are against it but deliberations are under way and it was there on the table,” he maintained.
Shedding light on a possible march of PTI, he said whatever would be done would be within the constitutional limits.
He took on the government saying despite going into an agreement with the IMF, the economy was in a “shambles”. “They were known for their performance but the delivery is zero, look at the economy and where the dollar is headed. Petroleum products were going down globally but they were increasing it here,” he said.
The former speaker said the government was “too weak” due to the multiparty alliance to face the disaster of the economy, floods and other issues. “They have to deliberate over every decision they are about to take,” he said.