‘Unease’ in PTI over resignations acceptance

ISLAMABAD - The National Assembly speaker’s recent decision to accept resignations of as many 11 MPs of the opposition Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has caused unrest among other lawmakers of the party due to fears that by-elections may cost them heavily both in terms of money and politics.

Some other 120 members of the National Assembly (MNAs) belonging to former prime minister Imran Khan’s party are now finding themselves between a rock and hard place over some reports that the speaker is going to accept their resignations, in parts, in the weeks to come.

Background interviews with some lawmakers reveal that they are upset due to the high cost of the by-polls, both in terms of politics and money at a time when general elections are around the corner.

Prior to this, a number of PTI lawmakers had been pushing the senior party leadership to withdraw their earlier decision of resignations only to return to the National Assembly. But PTI chairman Imran Khan is adamant that his party would not go back to the lower house of the parliament, which voted him out through an alleged foreign conspiracy, till next elections are held.

Some PTI lawmakers say that earlier, they had an impression that the matter would not go to the extent of by-elections. They were of the view that either PTI would become successful to pressurise the ruling coalition to announce an early general elections, which would pave their way to return to the NA, or the present political crisis would automatically push the country towards early polls. However, things did not happen in the way they were expecting.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s government apparently convinced the National Assembly Raja Speaker Pervaiz Ashraf to accept the resignations of PTI MNAs after Khan’s party dethroned ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) in Punjab in a humiliating way as a result of short order of the Supreme Court on 26th July.

Only two days   after the coalition parties lost power in the largely populous province of the country, the NA speaker accepted resignations of as many 11 MNAs of PTI after a delay of three and a half months.

Though PTI has termed the move of the speaker as ‘completely unjustifiable and unconstitutional’, the party has not given any hint that it would approach the court to challenge the decision. Earlier, the opposition party in the centre had been demanding that it had given en bloc resignations and all should be accepted simultaneously.

According to a PTI leader, it is the stated policy of the party that it would contest every by-election and would not leave any constituency open only to be filled by their opponent parties. He said that the party would contest by-poll on every NA seat that fell vacant but its members would not return to the assembly after winning the elections. They would again resign following their victory, he added.

The situation has caused disturbance among PTI lawmakers. They say that it is true that they cannot boycott the by-elections as this can cost them politically by leading to depriving them of their constituency. Though PTI is a popular party at the moment, even then if any of us lost the election, this would lower the candidate’s morale in the upcoming general elections.

They argue that any candidate has to spend millions of rupees while contesting election of NA but it is strange that they again would not be able to return to the lower house.

In the present on-going political instability, they think that general elections can be called anytime and it is likely that they would have to contest two elections within a span of three to four months and the situation would inflict heavy loss on them both politically and financially.

As PTI chairman Imran Khan has summoned an important meeting of the party’s national council tomorrow, some party lawmakers are hopeful that the senior leadership might find some solution to bring them out of this trouble.

On April 10, as many 131 MNAs of PTI had resigned en masse from the National Assembly,  minutes before the ruling coalition ousted the then prime minister Khan from power through a successful vote of no-confidence.

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