‘Azadi March’: For PTI, resignation option not off the table

Published: August 3, 2014
"We should not defuse our charged workers who are committed to get their rights through democratic means," PTI chief Imran Khan. PHOTO: PTI FACEBOOK PAGE

"We should not defuse our charged workers who are committed to get their rights through democratic means," PTI chief Imran Khan. PHOTO: PTI FACEBOOK PAGE


Amidst feverish preparations for the scheduled ‘Azadi March’, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) dropped a broad hint that it could use all options, including resignation of MPs from the assemblies, to press the government into accepting its demands.

The PTI leadership has already slammed the door shut on negotiations with the government. The party has started mobilising its supporters for the Azadi March at Islamabad’s D-Chowk where it expects one million will show up on August 14.

On Saturday, PTI chairman Imran Khan met his party leaders from central Punjab, led by provincial president Ejaz Chaudhry. Together they reviewed preparations for the Azadi March and discussed the possible measures the government might take to prevent the supporters from reaching Islamabad on August 14.

“We [PTI] haven’t asked our lawmakers to submit their resignations – but we do have this option,” Dr Shireen Mazari, the party’s information secretary, said in a statement. “A decision in this regard will be made at the Azadi March at D-Chowk in Islamabad.”

Hours earlier, Engineer Hamidul Haq Khalil, a federal lawmaker of the PTI from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, said that all MNAs of the party from the province will hand their resignations to party chairman Imran Khan at a meeting scheduled at 3pm on Sunday, at least an hour before the National Assembly session.

“We will submit the resignations since this is the leadership’s decision,” Haq told The Express Tribune. He precluded the possibility of any lawmaker going against the party line. “Imran is our chairman and we are bound to follow his directions.”

In its last meeting held before Eidul Fitr, the PTI core committee had decided that resignations from assemblies would be kept as an option. It will ask its legislators to submit their resignations to the party chairman and not the National Assembly speaker. And Imran can use this option if and when needed.

The government, however, appears unmoved by the possible move. Information Minister Senator Pervaiz Rashid said that even if the PTI lawmakers resigned it would have no impact on the government which would go for by-elections on all vacated seats.

“If PTI parliamentarians tender their resignations, we will hold by-elections. Resignations by any single party MPs do not make any difference in the 342-member house. If a precedent is set [by calling midterm elections], no assembly would be able to complete its tenure in the future,” Senator Rashid told The Express Tribune.

The minister claimed that PTI’s own lawmakers were unwilling to quit the assemblies. “There will be a rebellion within the PTI on such a controversial decision,” he claimed. “We cannot dissolve the assembly on the whims of any individual. This is a crime that we’ll never commit. We respect the mandate of the masses and sanctity of the vote.”

Nonetheless when asked about the government’s reported negotiations with the PTI and other protesting parties, the minister said that “in politics, doors are never shut for negotiations”.  The PTI has already made it clear that the “time for negotiations is over”.

The PTI has 34 members in lower house of the parliament that include 27 general seats, six reserved for women and one for minorities and the party is considering, has not taken the final decision, to resign from the NA.

Out of a total of 34 PTI MNAs, 17 are from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa on general seats and four on reserved seats, eight are from Punjab on general seats and two on reserved seats, while one member is from Sindh and another from Fata.

As part of its efforts to mobilise workers for the Azadi March, the PTI chairman has asked president of the Punjab chapter of his party to ensure maximum participation in the rally from the province.

In his letter to Ejaz Ahmed Chaudhry, Imran said, “As the time for long march approaches, we need to build up a hype that helps us to achieve our million man target, mobilise the general public into this movement, and it creates enough publicity to scare our opponents”.

PTI workers are determined to reach D-Chowk on August 14 in huge numbers even if the government bows down to all its demands, said one of the senior party leaders in an informal talks. “The government appears to be giving in to our pressure,” he added.

Now the main demand is not thumb verification of the votes in four constituencies, we want a full audit of the 2013 election like in Afghanistan, he added.

The PTI leaders believe any deviation from the million-man march and from key party demands at this stage means denting the group’s popularity, as experienced by Tahirul Qadri’s PAT during the 2013 sit-in. “We should not defuse our charged workers who are committed to get their rights through democratic means,” he added.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 3rd, 2014.

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Reader Comments (14)

  • Sara
    Aug 3, 2014 - 3:38AM

    For PTI fair elections means that the one and only winner of elections would be PTI. I can easily speculate the most unfair layout by PTI for rigging if they are to lead the nation. They are trying to dictate their terms, while the ignore the real mandate.


  • Naeem Khan Manhattan,Ks
    Aug 3, 2014 - 4:53AM

    What I don’t understand is why Nawaz Sharif decided not to have thumb print verification in the 4 constituencies in question and where is that Election Commission of Pakistan which is suppose to be independent body. I thought it is their job to verify the ballots in question, are they in cahoots with Nawaz Sharif. It seems Nawaz Sharif is scared to have verification done, I say he should have done it and deflate Imran Khan’s balloon but now there will be confrontation and the country does not need this kind of political atmosphere. I wonder if Nawaz Sharif has learned a lesson from the 90s debacle, obviously not. If any blood shed takes place like the Model Town scenario, Sharif brothers got to go, there is no room for these brothers to be so autocratic in the guise of democracy.


  • Usman
    Aug 3, 2014 - 5:50AM

    He did not ask for power, he did not ask for mid-term elections, he asked for an audit of only 4 constituencies, PMLN had committed rigging on such a scale they they couldn’t even agree to that.
    People saying IK only wants power, why do you come into politics if not to bring change? And change only comes through power, not charity.


  • Ch. Allah Daad
    Aug 3, 2014 - 6:47AM

    @Naeem Khan Manhattan,Ks:
    Election commission is an independent constitutional body. Prime Minister has no authority to force EC in any manner. One letter or one phone call to EC from Prime Minister would have disqualified him. Imran does not know anything except cricket rules but his party should have one constitutional expert.


  • Sami
    Aug 3, 2014 - 7:43AM

    @ Sara & Ch. Allah Daad
    Since last one and half year PTI has been continuously demanding for audit of election in few constituencies based on visible and clear rigging allegations. Election Tribunals, Election commission and Supreme Court failed to address concerns of PTI during this time period while PMLn did not put heed on PTI concerns, considering it a party of second-class citizens.

    As for as Mr. Allah Daad’s point is concern, it is totally false in case of PMLn. We have examples how PMLn ousted NADRA chairman, how CEC Fakhru Bhai was intervened by then CJ. PMLn appointed its own provincial election commissions, while we all know that our lower judiciary and bureaucracy in Punjab has become B-team of PMLn, as PMLn has always used them and granted them. These institutions forget their independent role. Now PTI has left nothing just to press government to fulfil its conditional and legal demands.


  • Hazzrat
    Aug 3, 2014 - 8:01AM

    @Ch. Allah Daad:

    Please have a some sense. People are educated enough.


  • Salman Ahmed
    Aug 3, 2014 - 8:10AM

    @Ch. Allah Daad: This is totally incorrect.There are many avenues available.

    The President could write to the ECP and ask to have the results opened/audited.

    Even an application can be made by all the parties affected that they wish to audit the results.

    The ECP members have not done their job and legally can be removed through the Supreme Judicial Council.

    They had no intention to have this done… that is why they sacked the Chairman Nadra too.


  • Aug 3, 2014 - 8:10AM

    Very hard to find one sincere person who actually tries hard for others and not for himself. Everyone plays the blame game these days.

    “When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.”: Jimi Hendrix Recommend

  • sabi
    Aug 3, 2014 - 8:51AM

    “The party has started mobilising its supporters for the Azadi March at Islamabad’s D-Chowk where it expects one million will show up on August 14.”

    We accept their figures only if they put all zeros before one.


  • Ahmed
    Aug 3, 2014 - 9:49AM

    14 August Azadi March will be historical


  • Dr.A.K.Tewari
    Aug 3, 2014 - 10:40AM

    Those who could not enter in the National assembly from Red Mosque are now trying to enter through the support of their political wing .Mia sahab will give them a red carpet welcome at Islamabad . The security of Islamabad will be in the hand of army , mind it .


  • Anjum Arshi
    Aug 3, 2014 - 11:36AM

    The game is much bigger than you can imagine. Behind all this fiasco is the mighty Establishment. The aim is to have a docile civilian government, like tha of Zardari, to have freedom to manoeuvre the post-2014 regional scenario. What the Establishment does not understand is that COMPLETE DESTRUCTION will follow these chaos. There will be NOTHING left for them to play with.


  • Aug 3, 2014 - 12:58PM

    Looking forward to this epic march!


  • Malveros
    Aug 3, 2014 - 2:34PM

    @Naeem Khan Manhattan,Ks:
    It is all a drama orchestrated by PTI. They know very well the magnetic ink was not good for retaining thumbprints. Opening 4 constituencies for auditing thumbprints is an excuse because PTI already knows the thumbprints cannot be verified. They just want to discredit the elections because they have lost. PML(N) is well aware of the game PTI is playing therefore no constituency will be opened on IK’s whims. The case is with the election tribunals and they will decide whether there is any proof of any irregularities on any polling station of that respective constituency.


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