ISLAMABAD - The controversy over the issue of PTI MNAs resignations acceptance has taken a critical turn as National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf has outrightly refused to accept the resignations collectively citing a number of opposition party’s MNAs have some reservations over tendering resignations. The speaker conveyed this to a delegation of PTI leaders who called on him at his chamber in the Parliament House here. The delegation had met for the en-masse verification of their submitted resignations. Pervez Ashraf made it clear that he would not accept resignations of PTI MNAs following the rules as PTI MNAs should appear individually for the verification of their resignations. “Verification of enbloc resignations of PTI MNAs will never be their option,” said National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervez Ashraf. The PTI delegation, led by former NA speaker Asad Qaiser, comprised Qasim Khan Suri, Malik Amir Dogar, Amjad Khan Niazi, Faheem Khan, Dr Shabbir Khan Lal, Ataullah and Tahir Iqbal visited the speaker. Ashraf said that the all PTI MNAs would be called individually for verification of their resignations. Speaker said the resignation should first and foremost be handwritten. The speaker will meet with the member to ascertain whether or not the resignation was submitted under duress, he said. He also highlighted that several PTI lawmakers had moved the courts and claimed that the PTI had decided to use the move to pressure the government, while some had submitted leave applications. The Speaker advised the PTI to return to the assembly, saying that their voice “would be more effective” in the parliament. “You are senior people. I expect you to come to parliament. I assure you that as speaker, I will give you the full opportunity to speak. Parliament is a forum where everyone comes together.” The PTI delegation, however, said they would consult the party’s command regarding the points raised during the meeting. “We can only talk about this when you come to the House,” the NA speaker said as he again advised the PTI to return to the parliament. According to an official handout released after the meeting, the National Assembly Speaker said that a decision about the confirmation of resignations would be taken as per the Constitution and the rules of the National Assembly. He said the PTI members were also called previously to confirm the resignations but they did not appear. He further said that a number of PTI MNAs had also approached courts to block the acceptance of resignations. Later, Pervaiz Ashraf told the media that they met in a very “pleasant environment”. Sharing the details of the meeting, Ashraf said that the delegation members asked him to accept the resignations of 127 PTI members en bloc. “However, I told them that there are some rules and regulations and limitations [regarding the approval of resignations],” he said. Article 64 of the Constitution requires a handwritten resignation by a lawmaker, which must be verified by the NA speaker by summoning the relevant MNA in person. “The speaker has the responsibility to make sure that the [resigning] MNAs are not under pressure,” he added. Ashraf further stated that he told the PTI delegation to return to the Parliament. Ashraf said that some of the MNAs even approached the courts, contending that they didn’t tender the resignations, some applied for leaves and some used to leave after marking attendance in the assembly. According to sources, a couple of PTI MNAs also signed in the assembly’s attendance registrar and demanded their salaries. While on the other side, PTI chief Imran Khan has taken notice of these reports and sought names of these MNAs. He also constituted a committee to investigate the issue violating the party line. Meanwhile, PTI leader Fawad Ch, while talking to media in Lahore, reiterated the party’s position that they had resigned en masse and the speaker will have to accept their resignations collectively. He maintained that none of the PTI members wanted to rejoin the National Assembly. On Wednesday last, Shah Mehmood Qureshi had said they are willing to play a role in the Parliament, but the government was not ready to commit seriously. The PTI leader made the remarks while reacting to Pakistan People’s Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari’s statement against PTI chief Imran Khan. Bilawal, addressing a gathering in Garhi Khuda Bakhsh held to mark the 15th death anniversary of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, asked the PTI chief to return to parliament as neither he nor his party “could bear” what’s coming to them. The PTI MNAs had resigned en masse after PTI Chairman Imran Khan was voted out from the prime minister’s office in April and have yet to return to the house.