ISLAMABAD: De-seated Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) lawmakers on Wednes­day claimed before the Islam­abad High Court (IHC) that the speaker of the Natio­nal Assembly had treated their “en masse letters” as a resignation and recommended their de-notification to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

In a departure from their previous demand that their resignations be accepted for­thwith, PTI leaders Dr Shireen Mazari, Ali Mohammad Khan, Farrukh Habib, Shandana Gulzar, Fazal Mohammd, Shaukat Ali, Fakhar Zaman, Ijaz Shah, Jameel Ahmed Khan and Mohammad Akram have moved the high court against the approval of their ‘resignations’ by the NA speaker and Election Commission of Pakistan.

PTI has already challenged the NA speaker’s decision of accepting resignations of its 10 MNAs before the Supreme Court.

On Sept 6, the IHC dismissed a petition in this regard, prompting the party to take the matter to the Supreme Court.

Another petition before IHC claims their letters were part of ‘political move’ to secure fresh elections

In their fresh plea before the high court, the PTI members argue that after the change of their government through a foreign conspiracy, the leadership took a policy decision to protest against the party’s ouster from office.

“To seek a fresh mandate from… people, the party decided to get all its elected members resigned en bloc from the National Assem­bly,” the petition said.

The party was of the view that the speaker was under obligation to accept the resignations of all 123 MNAs who had quit the lower house of parliament to protest the ouster of their party’s government “through a conspiracy”.

The petition filed by the 10 lawmakers on Wednes­day, however, stated: “The speaker of the National Assembly vide decision dated July 28, 2022 without any due [inquiry] nor any verification from the petitioners, treated the letters from the petitioners as “resignation”, final and binding” and forwarded these to the ECP who de-notified 11 members on the next date.

Read: How ‘U-turn’ on quitting NA may play into govt’s hands

The petition stated that these lawmakers “acted upon the directions of the party and for the political objective only of arriving at an agreement with the opposition parties for holding of fresh elections… the resignations was subject to all the 123 members of the National Assembly belonging to PTI resigning and being de-seated jointly and as a whole.”

According to the petition, the resignations were “conditional upon and subject to all the 123 members, who had sent letters of resignation being de-seated as a whole and jointly.”

The petition said that the speaker was under obligation to verify the resignation to ascertain whether these were “voluntary and genuine and whether the same was intended to act as a resignation” alleging that the speaker had, in connivance with government functionaries, unilaterally approved these resignations.

“Hence, the impugned orders accepting the resignations of the petitioners and de-seating [them] and ordering holding of elections are all contrary to the Constitution and illegal and liable to be set aside,” the petition went on to say.

The PTI lawmakers insisted that their “letters were not resignations… the petitioners were not willing to proceed with the resignation which is not final and binding but conditional.”

The petition also referred to the recently-surfaced audio leaks and claimed that the incumbent prime minister, his cabinet and senior PML-N leaders had hatched a conspiracy for “piecemeal” acceptance of PTI’s resignations and that the speaker was also part of that plot.

It is worth noting that the party has also urged the Supreme Court to take notice of the audio leaks and, through a petition, has sought strict action against Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and some others for “violating their oath and the Constitution”.

Published in Dawn, October 6th, 2022

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