Resignations of 11 PTI MNAs accepted

Notifications of the resignations will be forwarded to the ECP for further action, says NA spokesperson


Rizwan Shehzad   July 28, 2022
Prime Minister Imran Khan during voting at the National Assembly on Jan 13, 2022. Photo: APP

ISLAMABAD:

National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf on Thursday accepted the resignations of 11 Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) members exactly 109 days after they resigned from their seats.

With the move, the process of accepting the resignations formally began.

The NA speaker accepted the resignations of several key PTI leaders, including former human rights minister Shireen Mazari, ex-interior minister Ijaz Ahmed Shah, ex-state minister for parliamentary affairs Ali Muhammad Khan and ex-state minister for information and broadcasting Farrukh Habib, under Article 64 (1) of the Constitution.

The other PTI lawmakers whose resignations have been accepted are Fazal Muhammad Khan, Shaukat Ali, Fakhar Zaman Khan, Jamil Ahmed Khan, Muhammad Akram Cheema, Abdul Shakoor Shad and Shandana Gulzar Khan. Mazari and Shandana were elected on the reserved seats for women from Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, respectively.

Article 64 (vacation of seats) states: “A member of [Majlis-e-Shoora] parliament may, by writing under his hand addressed to the speaker or, as the case may be, the chairman resign [from] his seat, and thereupon his seat shall become vacant.”

The NA Secretariat officials said that the resignations were accepted after fulfilling the requirements under the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the National Assembly, 2007.

Following the decision, the secretariat issued notifications and sent the same to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), which will now take steps to fill the vacant seats.

All of the lawmakers had resigned on April 11 when former premier Imran Khan was being ousted through a no-confidence motion by the then united opposition and the incumbent ruling alliance.

Legal experts say that Article 224 (4) (time of election and by-election) of the Constitution, made it mandatory to hold by-elections on vacant seats within 60 days.

Article 224 (4) states: “When, except by dissolution of the National Assembly or a provincial assembly, a seat in any such assembly has become vacant not later than 120 days before the term of that assembly is due to expire, an election to fill the seat shall be held within 60 days from the occurrence of the vacancy.”

After losing 15 out of 20 seats in Punjab in by-polls and finally losing the chief ministership of the province, the government decided to move ahead with accepting the resignations of PTI lawmakers pending since April 11.

Amid the PTI’s demand for snap polls and the government decision to complete the remaining constitutional tenure till August 2023, elections on the vacant seats would not just be a face-off between the ruling alliance and the PTI and its allies but would turn out to be a referendum on their popularity among masses.

Sensing the move, former PTI information minister Fawad Chaudhry tweeted that ex-deputy speaker Qasim Suri had already accepted the PTI lawmakers’ resignations and sent the same to the ECP, saying the acceptance of the resignations now has no legal value.

Fawad said that it was a fantasy that by-elections would be held in 11 constituencies, adding that the country was moving towards general elections and the incumbent rulers won’t be able to stop that.

Also read: Question lingers over PTI MNAs’ resignations

Previously, the NA speaker had called in all 131 PTI lawmakers, who had resigned from their assembly seats, to verify if their resignations were “genuine and voluntary”.

The letters were sent to all the PTI members, who were invited individually for verification of their resignations starting from June 6 and ending on June 10.

As per the system devised, every MNA would have gotten five minutes to confirm if their resignations were voluntary and genuine. The speaker had invited the MNAs in pursuance of Paragraph (b) of Sub Rule (2) of Rule 43 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the NA, 2007.

However, PTI chief Imran Khan had barred his party members from appearing before the NA speaker, terming it a trap. The PTI legislatures didn’t show up and since then the matter was pending before the speaker.

On April 16, the NA speaker had directed the NA Secretariat to deal with the resignations of PTI lawmakers afresh and present them before him so that they could be treated as per law.

The ruling had come amid claims and speculations that some of the PTI lawmakers were not willing to resign and were conveying messages that their resignations should not be accepted.

The speaker’s direction had come days after former deputy speaker Suri’s ruling through which he had accepted the resignations of the PTI lawmakers after they resigned en masse from the assembly in protest over alleged “foreign interference” which ousted Imran Khan as prime minister.

Ashraf’s ruling had opened up the chapter of the resignation once again and it was being conjectured that the process of verification would “deliberately” take some time to give the newly formed government a breather to settle down.

The NA Secretariat did not explain why the speaker accepted the resignations of only 11 lawmakers and not others’ and what criteria was being followed for going ahead with a selected few and leaving 120 others in limbo. The secretariat also did not share if the NA speaker planned to accept more resignations in coming days.

By-polls

The ECP announced that by-elections on one National Assembly and two Punjab Assembly seats would be held on September 11.

According to a notification, the by-polls would be held in NA-157 (Multan-IV), PP-139 (Sheikhupura-V) and PP-241 (Bahawalnagar-V).

The NA-157 seat was vacated by PTI’s Zain Qureshi who participated in the Punjab Assembly constituency elections as a provincial candidate and defeated PML-N’s Salman Naeem.

The PP-139 seat was vacated after the resignation of PML-N candidate Jalil Sharaqpuri while PP-241 Bahawalnagar seat was vacated after the ECP de-notified PML-N’s Kashif Mehmood over a fake degree.

As per the schedule, the public notice would be issued by the returning officer (RO) on August 2 while candidates could file their nomination papers from August 3 to 5.

The names of nominated candidates will be published on August 6 while the last date for the scrutiny of nomination papers by the RO is August 11.

The last date for filing of appeals against decisions of the RO rejecting or accepting the nomination papers is August 16 while the last date for deciding of appeals by the appellate tribunal is August 22.

The revised list of candidates will be published on August 23 while the last date for withdrawal of candidature is August 24.

The date for allotment of election symbols to contesting candidates will be August 25.

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