ISLAMABAD: Although National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf wrote a fresh letter to the PTI recently, asking its lawmakers to come individually for the verification of the resignations they had tendered in April, he is unlikely to accept the resignations, apparently on the government’s advice.

On the other hand, PTI has decided to make another attempt for its lawmakers to appear before the speaker “in a group”. Therefore, the party MNAs would go to Parliament House on Dec 28 to get their resignations accepted.

The speaker had already asked the party that according to Rule 43 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the National Assembly, 2007, he was required to meet 127 MNAs of the party, including its chairman Imran Khan, individually to ascertain whether they had tendered their resignations freely and without duress.

The NA speaker wrote to PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi, asking him to send all party MNAs individually to verify their resignations.

Meanwhile, the NA Secretariat issued a press release on Sunday, reminding Mr Qureshi that the MNAs must appear individually.

‘Under pressure’ govt won’t allow resignations’ acceptance; PTI members to visit Parliament House on 28th ‘in a group’

The press release also mentioned Rule 43, which deals with lawmakers’ resignations and says that an MNA under Article 64(1) of the Constitution may, by writing under his hand addressed to the speaker, resign his seat if he hands over the letter of resignation to the speaker personally and informs him that the resignation is voluntary and genuine, and the speaker has no information or knowledge to the contrary.

Meanwhile, a government source told Dawn that the coalition government is “under pressure” and is said to have advised the speaker not to accept the resignations. The PTI has unintentionally provided a pretext to the government in this regard by deciding that its MNAs would not appear before the speaker individually.

PTI lawmakers submitted their resignations on April 11 after PTI chief Imran Khan was deposed as prime minister through a confidence vote in parliament.

The National Assembly Secretariat in its letter said that it summoned PTI lawmakers on May 30 and gave them time from June 6 to 10 to appear in person and confirm their resignations, but “none of them came”.

The speaker had accepted the resignations of 11 PTI MNAs in July — including Dr Shireen Mazari, Ali Muhammad Khan, Fakhar Zaman Khan and Farrukh Habib — without clarifying the reason for accepting them.

When contacted, PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry said PTI lawmakers had already tried to meet the National Assembly speaker, but Mr Ashraf skipped and left his office. “We are making another attempt to meet him on Wednesday,” he added.

He said PTI MNAs would not meet him one by one and would go to Parliament House in a group.

Mr Chaudhry urged the Supreme Court to look into the resignations’ case and said it was a “rare moment in the country’s history” that 127 MNAs tendered their resignations en masse on one call of PTI chief Imran Khan.

Drawing a comparison of the grip leaders have on their parties, the former information minister said: “PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz had once asked her husband’s elder brother and another MNA Safdar Javed Abbasi to resign, but they disappeared and switched off their phones.”

He said the country could only see political and economic stability only after free and fair elections.

Meanwhile, another source in the government said the National Assembly Secretariat had frozen salaries and allowances of PTI lawmakers since they resigned and the held amount had crossed over Rs200m.

“We cannot give them their salaries because if their resignations are accepted, they will be accepted with retrospective effect, and in that case, how will we recover the amount?” an official, who declined to be named, wondered.

He said some MNAs were still holding official accommodations.

Mansoor Malik in Lahore also contributed to this report

Published in Dawn, December 26th, 2022

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