LAHORE: As PTI Chairman Imran Khan Monday said his party could return to the National Assembly, backtracking on his months-long demand for approval of his lawmakers’ resignations en masse, the government welcomed his decision.
The PTI MNAs had collectively resigned after a vote of no-confidence removed Imran from prime minister’s office in April 2022. Speaking to senior journalists at his Zaman Park residence here, Imran said his party’s return to the parliament was required for discussion with the treasury benches on the interim set-up.
“If we do not go back to the assembly, they will form an interim setup after discussing the matters with Raja Riaz,” Imran said, adding: “We are planning a return to the National Assembly.”
Imran said after the dissolution of the Punjab Assembly, he had now planned to give Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif a ‘tough time’ in the centre, local media reports. Imran said they were preparing for a vote of confidence in the National Assembly. He was confident that PM Shehbaz will not be able to prove his majority.
“If there is a run-off election for the prime minister’s seat, Imran said they will take decisions as per the evolving situation. The PTI chief said several PML-N lawmakers were in contact since the dissolution of the Punjab Assembly.
“We’ll test them before accepting them into the party fold,” Imran said, without defining what this test would entail. Speaking about the second phase of Sindh LG polls, Imran said rigging and a weak party structure were reasons behind the PTI’s miserable performance.
Following Imran’s hint at getting back to the Parliament, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah Monday said the coalition government will “welcome back” the PTI lawmakers to the National Assembly if they decide to return, but clarified that discussions on an interim setup would not be held before the end of the mandated tenure of the government in August.
In an interview to a private TV channel, Sanaullah said: “Of course, we will welcome them [back] into the assembly as even when they were leaving, we had said it was an undemocratic decision.”
Sanaullah said the PTI MNAs will have to withdraw their resignations to get back to the National Assembly. “Further, Imran will also have to submit a request to the speaker in order to become the leader of the opposition.”
He reiterated that the general elections will be held upon the expiry of the parliament’s five-year term. “When the tenure of the assemblies would end on Aug 16, 2023, he (Imran) will be part of the consultation as the leader of the opposition and then the decision of the caretaker would be made.”
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