ISLAMABAD: Speaker National Assembly (NA) Raja Pervaiz Ashraf has announced that he would invite members of the National Assembly belonging to the PTI early next year for verification of their stated resignations.
PTI Chairman Imran Khan will not be invited for the purpose since he has been disqualified and is no more a member of the House. In a brief chat with The News here in Parliament House chamber Thursday evening, Ashraf said that he has responded the letter written by Parliamentary Group of PTI Shah Mahmood Qureshi and has emphatically made it clear that resignations wouldn’t be accepted collectively as every member who intends to resign will have to come to him personally for submitting resignation written in his own handwriting.
Such members will have to respond to his queries for determination of genuineness of the decision of member. Raja Pervaiz Ashraf disclosed that some PTI members have sought leave for their absence from the House while some others had approached him personally and expressed their intention not to quit the House.
The NA Speaker’s letter didn’t specify the schedule for summoning of PTI legislators. The NA Speaker said that he had hectic engagements before him, including some international commitments. Three delegations of parliament members of foreign countries, including British and Belgian members of parliament, are visiting Pakistan in a few weeks while NA Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf has to proceed to Australia for an international moot of the parliamentarians.
The NA Speaker said that he summoned the PTI members in June with a specific schedule of six days but Imran Khan stopped his members from visiting him. It was an ample proof that the members didn’t want to quit. The NA secretariat has discarded earlier resignations which had been technically lying pending despite the lapse of several months and repeated requests from the party leadership to accept them.
Also, the NA secretariat has issued the letter written to Shah Mahmood Qureshi by the Speaker. Raja Pervaiz Ashraf has referred to the Islamabad High Court’s (IHC) decision that the Speaker has to be satisfied regarding “genuineness and voluntary character of the resignation” before accepting them.
The PTI chairman announced that his members would appear before the NA speaker on Thursday for acceptance of their resignations but no member turned up in the House and none knocked on the door of NA speaker’s chamber.
As many as 123 PTI lawmakers resigned en masse from the lower house of parliament following the ouster of PTI chief Imran Khan in April this year. The NA Speaker, Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, recalled that the PTI MNAs were given time from June 6 to 10 to confirm the genuineness of their resignations in person but “none of them came for verification of their resignations”. The NA speaker, without giving any date, once again invited these MNAs to appear one by one for verification of their resignations.
The letter, mentioned Rule 43 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the National Assembly, 2007 as the legislation requiring the speaker to satisfy himself that the “letter of resignation is voluntary and genuine”.
Former NA deputy speaker Qasim Suri as acting speaker had accepted the resignations of 123 PTI MNAs. However, the incumbent NA Speaker decided to verify the resignations and only accepted the resignations of 11 lawmakers on July 27.
Later, the PTI challenged the move in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on August 1. The learned court dismissed the petition and declared that the acceptance of PTI lawmakers’ resignations by the then-deputy speaker was unconstitutional. The PTI moved the Supreme Court and requested it to set aside the IHC order, terming it “vague, cursory, and against the law”. The decision is still pending. The NA speaker reiterated that the resignations would not be accepted unless there was clarity that the mass resignation did not take place under any pressure. The PTI MNAs had submitted their resignation letters on April 11 in protest, two days after the ouster of Imran Khan as prime minister.
The speaker had accepted the resignations of 11 PTI MNAs in July, including Dr Shireen Mazari, Ali Muhammad Khan, Fakhar Zaman Khan and Farrukh Habib.
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