Speaker set to accept 35 more PTI resignations

Muhammad Saleh Zaafir
Tuesday, Jan 24, 2023

ISLAMABAD: The resignations of at least 35 more members of the National Assembly (MNAs) belonging to the erstwhile ruling party Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) will be accepted by speaker National Assembly Raja Pervez Ashraf on Tuesday (today) provided the Parliament House is opened by the Capital Development Authority (CDA).

The CDA that looks after the maintenance of the Parliament House building had sealed it on Sunday evening after a reported short circuit.

The process for granting acceptance of such resignations had already been initiated by the speaker.However, no firm decision has been taken to accept the 35 PTI resignations today, according to NA sources.

With this new development, the PTI’s strength in the National Assembly would be reduced to less than a dozen Imran Khan loyalists. Highly placed sources of the NA Speaker Secretariat told The News here Monday that with fresh action of the speaker number of the opposition, MNAs would be reduced to 38 including a group of 20 PTI headed by Faisalabad MNA Raja Riaz Ahmad who is also currently the leader of opposition in the National Assembly. Three members of the Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) of Sindh, two of the PML-Q of Pervez Elahi group, one JI member, elected as Muttahida Majals-e-Amal Pakistan (MMAP) and one dissident member of Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) are other members of the opposition grouping.

The new lineup of the opposition after the expulsion of 116 members of the PTI, would continue till the time the present National Assembly lasts. With this development the PTI’s plan of bringing their own leader of the opposition, the Chairman Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the Parliament and a parliamentary group leader, is frustrated. This would also allows Raja Riaz to continue as the leader of the opposition. After accepting the resignations of the last bunch, the sources said no further resignations would be considered entertained.

The sources said that the National Assembly’s adjourned sitting will assemble on Friday (January 27) and by then the whole process of resignation acceptance would be completed. The sources reminded that some of the PTI leaders held a meeting with Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Raja Sikandar Sultan on Monday and submitted an application seeking withdrawal of their resignations but it was a “misplaced” action since their resignations can only be accepted by the speaker.

In the meanwhile, sources said that PTI chairman Imran Khan would be allowed to take the oath of his membership, after winning from seven NA constituencies, after issuance of his notification as MNA by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and accordingly notified by the Speaker’s Secretariat. It would be interesting to see if he sits on the opposition benches under Raja Riaz Ahmad or opts for the independent benches.

The PTI has been airing its desire to return to the house but that would unfold another surprise for them as the MNAs who have not returned to the Parliament since April 10 without taking leave from the house/speaker would be disqualified as MNAs under the constitution’s Article 64(2).

“ Vacation of seats: 64. (1) 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 his seat, and thereupon his seat shall become vacant. (2) A House may declare the seat of a member vacant if, without leave of the House, he remains absent for forty consecutive days of its sittings.”