• Date for dissolution to be decided after parliamentary parties’ meet
• Fawad says after dissolution, opposition will be consulted over interim govt in KP, Punjab
• Party confident any no-trust move against them will be defeated

LAHORE: The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) senior leadership, led by party Chairman Imran Khan, on Monday formally decided to dissolve the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assemblies as well as tender resignations from the Sindh and Balochistan legislatures.

The meeting also decided that the PTI would approach the National Assembly speaker and push him to accept resignations of its legislators.

These decisions were taken in a meeting of the party’s senior leadership that Mr Khan hosted at his Zaman Park residence, a couple of days after announcing in his Rawalpindi rally that the party would disassociate itself from the “corrupt political system” in vogue by quitting from all legislative assemblies.

During the meeting that was attended by PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi and other senior leaders, Mr Khan consulted Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Mini­ster Mehmood Khan over the dissolution of the provincial assembly to which the latter instantly respo­nded that it would be done as soon as required by the party leadership.

The former premier has also scheduled a meeting with his coalition partner in Punjab, Chief Minister Chaudhry Parvez Elahi, on Tuesday (today) for a formal consultation to dissolve the provincial assembly.

“We are standing with PTI chief Imran Khan and ready to dissolve the Punjab Assembly on his call. The PTI-PML-Q coalition has 191-member strength in the assembly,” Mr Elahi stressed in a tweet.

Furthermore, Mr Khan has scheduled meetings with the Punjab and KP parliamentary parties on Friday and Saturday, respectively, to finalise a date to dissolve both legislatures. “The final date for dissolving the assemblies will be announced after the parliamentary parties’ meetings,” PTI senior leader Fawad Chaudhry told the media after the meeting of the senior leadership.

Later, he said, PTI legislators will tender resignations from the Sindh and Balochistan assemblies as well.

“With the dissolution of Punjab and KP assemblies, and tendering of resignations by PTI legislators from the National and two other provincial assemblies, 567 seats – some 67 per cent – will fall vacant from the total 859. So, elections on these 567 seats will actually create an environment for the general elections,” Mr Chaudhry believed.

After the dissolution, the former minister said, the opposition would be invited to propose names for the constitution of interim governments in both provinces. The Election Commission of Pakistan would be responsible for holding “general” elections on all seats of both assemblies within 90 days, he added.

The party meeting also decided to constitute parliamentary boards to begin the process of selecting and awarding tickets to candidates in Punjab and KP in the next three days.

Insisting that the PTI’s popularity will not be dented even if the elections were delayed until next October, the PTI leader claimed all the Pakistan Democratic Movement parties would face the wrath of the masses in every poll. “This is Imran Khan’s confidence in the public support that he is ready to dissolve his own governments,” Mr Chaudhry remarked.

Responding to questions, the PTI leader disregarded the federal government’s plan to impose governor’s rule for being unconstitutional. He claimed the chief minister had constitutional powers to decide and dissolve an assembly.

Mr Chaudhry also maintained the PML-N could delay the dissolution of the Punjab Assembly for three days even if it tabled a no-confidence motion. “The PML-N doesn’t have 186 members in the Punjab Assembly, so such a move will surely be defeated,” he added confidently.

To a question whether outgoing army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa did anything ‘positive’ during his six-year service, the PTI leader said the one good thing the general would do would be handing over charge to his successor on Tuesday (today).

On the PTI’s decision to dissolve the Punjab and KP assemblies, a party leader said it was a political move in the right direction, as they would capitalise on their popularity in the two provinces and form governments for the next five years. “In case of elections in Sindh and Balochistan also, the PTI will be required to focus only on these two provinces to give a tough time to the incumbent ruling parties there. Later, National Assembly votes can be easily gained on the basis of victories at the provincial level,” he said.

To a question whether all PTI legislators were on the same page over en masse resignations, the leader said party chief Imran Khan had disgraced all turncoats for selling their conscience to such a level that no one would dare violate the party discipline again.

The senior leadership meeting also strongly condemned the arrest of Senator Azam Swati and announced a women and children’s protest outside the Supreme Court’s Lahore registry.

Meanwhile, responding to reports from various quarters, Punjab Chief Minister Parvez Elahi tweeted that governor’s rule could not be imposed while an assembly was in session, and added the provincial government was taking every step within the ambit of Constitution and rule of law.

He said the opposition was in minority in the Punjab Assembly and that voting could not be allowed on a no-confidence motion while the assembly was in session.

Published in Dawn, November 29th, 2022

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