ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) is considering expelling a dissident group of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa lawmakers who had refused to quit the assemblies about eight months ago.
The Imran Khan-led party has been weathering a storm of criticism since returning to parliament after almost eight months on the sidelines, protesting against an “illegally” installed government.
Just like its opponents are showing no mercy to the party on its decision to first resign and then return to parliament, the party leadership is also giving the same treatment to four of its National Assembly members.
The PTI legislators had quit all but one assembly on August 22 last year about a week after the party, together with fiery cleric Tahirul Qadri, launched a vociferous movement against the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Only one, Javed Hashmi, had actually resigned from the National Assembly, which has 33 PTI members.
The four rebels – Gulzar Khan (NA-4), Siraj Muhammad Khan (NA-6), Nasir Khan Khattak (NA-15) and Mussarat Alamzeb [on a reserved seat for women] did not resign and continued to attend the proceedings of the lower house.
While the attitude of its opponents, the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, in particular, was said to be harsh but tolerable, the PTI does not want even to sit with its dissidents in the house. Since the PTI chairman cannot unseat the lawmakers using the defection clause, the party has decided to ask the NA speaker to expel them from the party’s seats.
“We will ask the NA speaker to allocate them [dissidents] new seats as they are not part of the PTI anymore,” the party’s information secretary Dr Shireen Mazari told The Express Tribune.
She added the request would be made in the upcoming assembly session. The party did not take up the matter on its return, as it was a joint parliament session. “They are not a part of our party,” Mazari said, “they ditched us at a time when we needed them.”
She claimed the PTI had taken a stand and had returned to the assemblies only after a judicial commission was formed to investigate electoral rigging. She was, however, not happy with the defence minister’s bashing and that too when the prime minister was present.
Though the PTI could not respond to Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, the party has settled its score. “We told the prime minister in clear words that we would stage a walkout if Khawaja Asif presented the resolution [on Yemen],” Mazari said.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 13th, 2015.