Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, the speaker of the National Assembly, declared on Sunday that he would not accept the resignations of any PTI legislators, who announced widespread resignations from the lower chamber of parliament in April unless he was certain that they were not submitted under duress.
When questioned why he only approved the resignations of a small number of PTI MPs, he responded, “The law requires that even if a member declares in my presence that they wish to leave but I have knowledge that they are under pressure, I should not accept their resignation.”
According to Ashraf, PTI legislators continued to inhabit parliament lodges and make use of benefits offered to MNAs even after the announcement of mass resignations. Then they write me texts asking me to reject their resignations. In this case, he declared, “I will not de-seat any member until I am confident that they were not retiring under duress.
The speaker made it clear that he had accepted the resignations of those MPs who had made public declarations in the media and on social media indicating that they were resigning voluntarily.
Just hours before Shehbaz Sharif, the then-opposition leader was about to take the oath of office as the next leader of the country, the PTI, whose leader Imran Khan was removed as premier by a no-confidence vote in April, said it was quitting the NA collectively.
Following that, 123 PTI MNAs tendered their resignations, which were later accepted by then-NA deputy speaker Qasim Suri in his position as acting speaker of the house. On July 27, the outgoing speaker accepted the resignations of just 11 legislators after deciding to confirm the others.
The PTI had first contested the action before the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on August 1, claiming that it was “unsustainable.” However, the IHC rejected the appeal on September 6 and ruled that Suri’s acceptance of the resignations of PTI legislators was illegal.
The party subsequently went to the SC and requested that it overturn the IHC judgment because it was “vague, superficial, and against the law.” The Supreme Court’s ruling regarding the PTI’s appeal is still waiting.
Meanwhile, deposed PTI legislators asserted once again to the IHC in October, contending that the NA speaker had interpreted their “en masse letters” as a resignation and requested their de-notification to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).
They petitioned the high court to overturn the NA speaker and ECP’s acceptance of their “resignations” in a shift from their prior demand that they are accepted immediately.
Speaking on the subject today, Ashraf stated that he anticipated PTI legislators would return to the legislature, serve their constituents, and participate in parliamentary processes.
“Their desire for honest elections can only be met if we legislate better, take better steps, and develop a plan along with everyone’s consent,” he emphasized.
In order to address the country’s problems, he urged agreement between the administration and the opposition. The speaker said, “Just as the government has importance, so does the opposition.”
When asked about “backdoor connections” between the administration and the opposition, he emphasized that all political figures and parties should “handle things with consensus.”
Earlier in the media discussion, he emphasized the importance of parliament and using this venue to settle different issues, saying that doing so would “strengthen the economy” and bring about “maturity in politics.”
“I implore all political parties and individuals from all schools of thought that there should be stability in Pakistan’s politics today,” he said, adding, “We need to establish an environment where we respect each other and leave our minor concerns aside, join together for a broader purpose.
“This is what we need right now.”
The speaker emphasized the need for assemblies to finish their terms, adding that this would “bring maturity [in politics] and enhance the system.”