The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf lawmakers have decided to hand in their resignations to party chairman Imran Khan and empowered him to take the decision whenever needed. The decision was taken at a meeting of PTI’s parliamentary party at the Parliament House on Monday.
“The meeting unanimously decided to hand over the resignations [of parliamentarians] to Imran Khan who would decide when they should be presented to the National Assembly speaker,” said PTI deputy parliamentary leader and vice chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi after the huddle. The meeting was convened before the National Assembly went into session. Qureshi chaired the meeting in the absence of the party chairman.
Three crunch questions figured at the meeting – Palestine, invocation of Article 245 of the Constitution by the government and the possible resignation of PTI lawmakers from the assemblies, according to the PTI vice chairman. Out of 34 members in the lower house, PTI has 27 general seats, six reserved for women and one for minorities.
About the Palestinian issue, Qureshi, who had also served as foreign minister during the last regime, said that Pakistan had a stated position over the issue. However, the government’s silence was quite surprising. “The prime minister has not issued a single statement,” he added. There should be an immediate ceasefire in Palestine and the government should play its due role.
Talking about Article 245, Qureshi said, “It is a political ploy to circumvent PTI’s march.” He added that the government can invoke Article 245 but circumstances, at this juncture, do not warrant the decision.
In order to substantiate his point, Qureshi said that life in Islamabad was quite normal and there was no need to take extraordinary steps like invoking Article 245. Why were such steps not taken in Karachi where the law and order situation is far from satisfactory? “The government should immediately take back its decision and for that, we are approaching other political parties as well.”
He said the PTI had also submitted an adjournment motion in the assembly and would take up the issue during the session.
The party also discussed preparations for the Azadi March for which the party has asked the government to prorogue the lower house session on August 12. The decision to continue the NA session till August 12 – which was supposed to last until August 17 – was taken during the business advisory committee’s meeting of the lower house, which has representation from all political parties.
Though the decision had been taken and the NA Secretariat had issued a statement, Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Syed Khursheed Ahmed Shah opposed it and urged the speaker for a review during Monday’s proceedings of the lower house. “The session should not end on August 12 and should continue,” Shah said.
Responding to the opposition leader, the NA speaker said he would get back to him after consulting leaders of other political parties for another meeting to review the decision.
Imran gets Mengal’s support
PTI chief Imran Khan contacted Akhtar Mengal, the chief of Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M), on Monday and invited him to participate in his August 14 protest march to Islamabad.
Shireen Mazari, PTI’s information secretary, claimed that the Baloch nationalist leader has assured Imran of his party’s support. BNP-M will participate in PTI’s Azadi March, she announced.
Shah Mehmood Qureshi and K-P Chief Minister Pervez Khattak, meanwhile, met Jamaa- e-Islami chief Sirajul Haq to formally invite his party to participate in the march.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 5th, 2014.