Asad Umar terms ECP's order a 'great achievement' for PTI
ISLAMABAD: In a major development, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) Friday de-seated 25 dissident MPs who had voted for PML-N’s Hamza Shahbaz in the Punjab chief minister’s election.
The ECP announced the unanimous verdict today. In its 23-page order, the Election Commission said that the MPs voted against the party line and were liable to be de-seated according to the law.
Punjab Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi had sent a reference to the ECP against 25 PTI lawmakers who voted against the party policy in the election for the Punjab chief minister on April 16.
Hamza Shahbaz had got 197 votes as opposed to the required number of 186 in the house of 371 and now after the ECP verdict, the position of the Punjab chief minister is unclear as he has lost the majority in the assembly.
MPAs who have been de-seated
Out of the 25 members who have been de-seated by the Election Commission today, four belong to the Asad Khokhar group, five from Aleem Khan while 16 MPs are affiliated with the Jahangir Khan Tareen faction of PTI.
The Election Commission’s verdict gained special significance after the Supreme Court’s interpretation of Article 63-A in which it was held that the vote of dissident MPs will not be counted.
The PTI lawmakers had argued that they did not get any clear policy guidelines from the Parliamentary Party and in absence of any direction, the party can not move against them.
However, their arguments were not accepted by the Election Commission.
"In today's vibrant electronic, print and social media, it can be hardly believed that despite the party's policy being flashed on electronic, print and social media, the respondents had no notice of the same. Besides, the issue of election of the Chief Minister Punjab had also been agitated before the worthy Lahore High Court by the political parties and the same had been widely publicised and discussed on the print, electronic and social media," the ECP order stated.
The ECP, in its order, said, “There are two options before us, one is to ignore the completion of actus reus (casting of vote in favour of opposing candidate) on the ground of non-fulfilment of pre-requisites as mentioned in Article 63-A and decline the declarations. The other is to hold that casting of vote in favour of an opposing candidate against a party's policy being a serious matter as observed by the Hon'ble Supreme Court…..”
It added that the casting of votes by the respondents in favour of the opposing candidate is a serious issue and the worst form of betraying the electorate and the party's policy.
“Therefore, we hold that the defection in the subject cases shall not depend upon strict proof of observance of pre-requisites as provided in Article 63-A. Questions are decided accordingly.”
The ECP stated that the members have arrived at the conclusion that participation of the respondents in the election of chief minister Punjab and casting their votes in favour of the opposing candidate has established the factum of defection on the basis of the subject declarations against all the respondents.
“The declarations are confirmed and the respondents cease to be members of the Punjab Assembly and their seats become vacant.”
A three-member bench comprising Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja, Nisar Ahmed Durrani and Shah Mohammad Jatoi, heard the reference filed last month.
Speaking to journalists after the ECP order, senior PTI leader Asad Umar congratulated the nation saying “another chapter of heinous politics has closed today.”
“Some of the political parties have used politics for businesses as they are involved in horse-trading,” Umar said, adding that these people [the current leadership] come into power by investing money and earn more by misusing their power.
He highlighted that it was the former prime minister and PTI Chairman Imran Khan who stood against such corrupt practices.
Referring to Supreme Court’s verdict on Article 63-A, Umar said that first the apex court’s verdict and now the ECP’s decision is a “great achievement.”
Highlighting that these 25 dissidents are no longer members of the provincial assembly, Umar expressed his sympathy for those who have invested in them.
He reiterated that the time for consultations is over and the coalition government should announce fresh elections.
Commenting on the prevailing economic crises in the country, Umar said: “The economy is stagnant there is uncertainty in the society.”
“The country has witnessed external interference and bidding of conscience […] now the people want to see the change,” he said.
Reacting to the development, PML-N vice-president Maryam Nawaz said no matter what the PTI does, their dream of snatching Punjab from the lion [PML-N] will be shattered. InshaAllah.
She said that the people of Punjab are extremely angry over the loot and plunder of Farah Khan and they will avenge this by defeating them [PTI] in the next elections.
Earlier, the ECP, in its May 11 verdict rejected the disqualification reference against the MNAs of the PTI involved in floor crossing during the no-confidence motion against Imran Khan. The ECP said in its verdict that the reference against 20 MNAs of the PTI was not proved.