ISLAMABAD: The ongoing conflict over individual verifications of resignations of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) lawmakers in the National Assembly took a new turn on Thursday with both sides claiming that a letter that PTI MNA Siraj Muhammad Khan wrote to the Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq has vindicated their stance.
Khan, along with other PTI parliamentarians had submitted his resignation to the Speaker’s chamber on August 22. But on Thursday, Khan sent a letter to the Speaker asking him not to accept his resignation.
The Speaker subsequently accepted his application and rejected Khan’s resignation.
Sources told Express Tribune that Khan has not withdrawn his resignation, instead he had informed the Speaker about being forced to resign from his NA seat by his party.
“The letter of Khan has substantiated Speaker’s stance for individual verification of every single resignation of the PTI,” sources said.
On October 29, some 25 PTI members had reached the Parliament House for verifying their resignations before the Speaker. But the PTI lawmakers insisted on en masse verification while the Speaker insisted on individual verification.
The impasse had prompted the Speaker to refer the matter to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to resolve the issue.
On that day, Khan, along with Saleemur Rehman, Qaiser Jamal, Shahryar Khan Afridi, as well as the PTI Chairman Imran Khan were absent.
PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi, who was present in the assembly, had clarified that the absence of a few lawmakers did not reflect their opposition to the party’s decision.
Khan had been elected into the lower House from NA-6 Nowshera II with 54,266 votes and in the process defeating candidates of both the Awami National Party (ANP) and ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) in 2013 general elections.
Khan’s letter proof of horse trading
Reacting to Khan’s letter, the PTI claimed that Thursday’s development lent credence to their apprehensions of ‘horse trading’.
“We had apprehensions that the government would offer money and try to buy our members and it has happened today with Khan’s letter to the Speaker,” said Dr Arfi Alvi.
Talking to The Express Tribune, Alvi said that “this was the very reason we opposed the individual verification of resignations.”
When asked about PTI’s future course of action, Alvi said that Khan was the fourth party leader to have opposed the party decision and the party would inform the Speaker and the ECP that Khan no longer belongs to the party.
However, the decision to withdraw Khan’s party membership is yet to be made official.
Article 63A of the Constitution has laid down the criterion regarding disqualification of the parliamentary party membership on grounds of defection reads as:
“(1) If a member of a Parliamentary Party composed of a single political party in a House-(a) resigns from membership of his political party or joins another Parliamentary Party, or (b) votes or abstains from voting in the House contrary to any direction issued by the Parliamentary Party to which he belongs, in relations to- (i) election of the Prime Minister or the Chief Minister, or (ii) a vote of confidence or a vote of no-confidence, or (iii) a Money Bill or a Constitution (Amendment) Bill, he may be declared in writing by the Party Head to have defected from the political party, and the Head of the Parliamentary Party may forward a copy of the declaration to the Presiding Officer, and shall similarly forward a copy thereof to the member concerned: Provided that before making the declaration, the Party Head shall provide such member with an opportunity to show cause as to why such declaration may not be made against him.”