Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) senior leader and Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah said Tuesday that PML-N would not contest the by-elections on the 35 vacant National Assembly seats, that have been left behind after Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf accepted their resignation and the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) de-notified the 35 lawmakers earlier today.
As power politics continues between the ruling and the opposition parties in the country, the NA speaker accepted the resignations of 35 members of the lower house of parliament. Of these 34 belong to the Imran Khan-led Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). The last of these is Awami Muslim League (AML) chief Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, who is a close aide of Khan, and whose resignation was also approved by the speaker.
Speaking on Geo News programme “Capital Talk”, Sanaullah asked who would contest elections for just a span of “only two or three months”.
He reiterated that the government would complete its constitutional term that would end in August 2023. The minister said that the speaker took the decision as the PTI lawmakers did not appear before him in person despite being invited multiple times for verification of their resignations.
In response to a query, the minister said that postponement of by-elections in Punjab was not out of the question but they should prepare for the polls.
Reacting to the development, Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) President and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam–Fazl (JUI-F) Chief Maulana Fazl Ur Rehman said that the ruling alliance would not contest by-polls on the vacant seats.
Reasons for not contesting the election will also be unveiled soon, he added.
PTI leader Hammad Azhar said that as per the Constitution, the authority should accept either all the resignations or none of them.
He accused Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja of “serving the Sharifs”.
“Now let’s see if the judiciary protects the Constitution or not,” he added.
Reacting to the coalition government’s move, PTI Senior Vice-President Fawad Chaudhry thanked Speaker Pervaiz Ashraf for accepting the resignations of his party’s lawmakers.
Taking to his Twitter handle, the PTI senior said, Thank you for accepting our resignation, but until you accept 70 more resignations, the posts of Leader of Opposition and Parliamentary Party have to come to Tehreek-e-Insaf. The Public Accounts Committee is also the right of Tehreek-e-Insaf. I hope the Supreme Court will give a [favourable] judgment in the pending case."
Until the acceptance of 70 more resignations, the slots of Leader of the Opposition in the NA and Public Accounts Committee chairman belong to his party.
Fawad hopes that the Chief Justice of Pakistan would decide his party’s pending cases in this regard soon.
PTI Secretary General Asad Umar said that his party’s chairman would contest by-elections on 33 of the 35 vacant NA seats.
Reacting to the PDM’s decision, the PTI leader claimed, “whether the ruling alliance participates or not, Khan will win all the seats”.
The government took the decision as it feared the PTI would return to the National Assembly, he added.
“PM Shehbaz Sharif will have to take a trust vote whether we 35 MNAs are in the assembly or not,” Umar said.
Stressing the speaker to accept the resignations of all the PTI MNAs, he said that those lawmakers whose resignations have not been accepted yet would return to the assembly.
Taking to Twitter, Chaudhary reiterated this claim saying, "Tehreek-e-Insaf will contest elections on all the seats and Imran Khan will be the candidate of Tehreek-e-Insaf on these thirty-three seats."
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