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Thursday December 02, 2021

Record-breaking number of resignations to come if PDM sticks to its stance

December 11, 2020

ISLAMABAD: As many as 470 seats of the national and provincial assemblies -- a significant 44 percent of the total-- will fall vacant if all the lawmakers belonging to the constituent parties of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) tender their resignations as announced by the 11-party opposition alliance.

The total strength of the national and four provincial assemblies comes to 1,070 legislators. Some six seats – two national and four provincial – are currently vacant, awaiting by-polls, which the Election Commission of Pakistan has postponed on the recommendation of the National Command and Operation Center (NCO) due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The National Assembly comprises 342 members; the Punjab Assembly has 371 members; the Sindh Assembly consists of 168 lawmakers; the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Assembly has 124 lawmakers; and the Balochistan Assembly comprises 65 members.

Opposition senators have not been included in this tally as the PDM has only talked about walking out of the directly elected legislatures and not the indirectly elected Upper House of Parliament, which they dominate.

Five Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) members of the Punjab Assembly have been expelled from the party for siding with the government and going against its policies. Similarly, a member of the Balochistan Assembly, the former provincial chief minister Sardar Sanaullah Zehri, who was elected on a PML-N ticket, said goodbye to the party after a recent row.

The ANP, which is a component of the PDM, is a partner in the coalition government of Balochistan. It has four lawmakers in the province. It is not known whether or not they will also quit, honouring the call of their party. The PML-N has 83 members of the National Assembly (MNAs); the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) has 55 federal lawmakers; the Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M) has four legislators and the ANP has just one member. Combined, they total 143 MNAs, according to the National Assembly record.

The PML-N has 165 members in the Punjab Assembly and the PPP has seven MPAs. In the Sindh Assembly, the PPP, which rules the province single-handedly, has 96 MPAs. If they resign en masse, the legislature will become defunct because they are in majority.

In the KP Assembly, the Mutahidda Majlis-e-Amal (MMA)/Jamiate Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) has 17 MPAs; ANP has 12 members; PML-N has 6 lawmakers; and PPP has 5 legislators. That adds up to a total of 40 opposition members.

The MMA and BNP-M have 10 MPAs each in the Balochistan Assembly; the Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party of Mahmood Achakzai has just one. The ANP has four members.