ISLAMABAD  -   The disgruntled members of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) who had avoided the voting on no-confidence motion against prime minister Imran Khan on Saturday night are facing yet another dilemma as they still need to comply with the directions of the parliamentary party on the occasion of election of new Leader of the House to be held today (Monday).

Around 20 members of the PTI  who had announced their support for the no-confidence motion ,  moved by the opposition against PM Imran Khan opted to stay away from the voting after the opposition alliance managed to secure the magic number of 172 with the support of erstwhile government allies — MQM, BAP, etc. PM Imran was voted out as 174 members of the opposition parties in the National Assembly voted in favour of the no-confidence motion. The estranged parliamentarians of the PTI did not participate in the voting, fearing defection and disqualification under Article 63-A (b) of the Constitution.

However, as the House is going to elect new Leader of the House after PM Imran’s ouster, the PTI’s dissidents are still bound to comply with the directions of the parliamentary party. Article 63-A (b) which deals with disqualification on grounds of defection, etc says member of a parliamentary party , composed of a single political party in a House would stand disqualified on ground of defection, etc if he/she “votes or abstains from voting in the House contrary to any direction issued by the parliamentary party to which he belongs, in relations to election of the prime minister or the chief minister; or a vote of confidence or a vote of no-confidence; or a Money Bill or a Constitution (Amendment) Bill”.

PTI has fielded Shah Mahmood Qureshi as its candidate against the opposition’s Shehbaz Sharif for the slot of PM. The PTI disgruntled members would again find themselves in an awkward situation as they, under Article 63 (b), are bound to support the party candidate. The disgruntled members would also be facing axe of Article-63 (b) in case they abstain from the proceedings against the parliamentary party directions.

Similarly, if at some later stage, PTI files a no-confidence motion against the PM, the rebels would also be bound to comply with the parliamentary party directions. Interestingly, the budget will also be in a few months and that will also be a testing time for the PTI disgruntled.

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf has submitted references against its 20 rebel lawmakers to National Assembly speaker Asad Qaiser before he stepped down. The references were sent by the prime minister and handed over to the speaker by the party’s chief whip in the house, Amir Dogar. The references were filed under Article 63-A of the Constitution. The references read that the dissidents were exposed via ‘large-scale broadcast and videos’ to have quit the PTI, joined the opposition for the no-trust motion against the premier and no denials or rebuttals were issued to the acts of defection.

The dissidents may escape wrath of Article 63-A for siding with the opposition parties on the occasion of voting on no-confidence motion as they did not participate in the voting process. However, this time, the PTI would find a strong case against its dissidents if they go against the directions of the parliamentary party. They will be facing disqualification under Article-63 if they do not vote for the party candidate or abstain from the proceedings against the directions of the Parliamentary Party. Voting in favour of the opposition parties’ candidate; Shehbaz Sharif would be another extreme step to invoke Article-63 of the Constitution.