The Election Commission of Pakistan on Tuesday (ECP) de-notified 34 PTI MNAs after their resignations were accepted by National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf.
The PTI had resigned en masse from the lower house of parliament following the ouster of PTI chief Imran Khan in April last year. Subsequently, the NA speaker had accepted only 11 of the resignations, stating that the remaining lawmakers would be summoned individually for verification.
The notification issued by the electoral watchdog today, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, stated that the lawmakers were de-notified “with immediate effect”.
The de-notified lawmakers include Murad Saeed, Omar Ayub Khan, Asad Qaiser, Pervaiz Khattak, Imran Khattak, Sheharyar Afridi, Ali Amin Khan, Noorul Haq Qadri, Raja Khurram Shahzad Nawaz, Ali Nawaz Awan, Asad Umar, Sadaqat Ali Khan, Ghulam Sarwar Khan, Sheikh Rashid Shafique, Mansoor Hayat Khan, Fawad Ahmed, Sanaullah Khan Mastikhel, Hammad Azhar, Shafqat Mahmood, Malik Muhammad Amir Dogar, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Zartaj Gul, Faheem Khan, Saifur Rehman, Muhammad Alamgir Khan, Syed Ali Haider Zaidi, Aftab Hussain Saddique, Ataullah, Aftab Jehangir, Muhammad Aslam Khan, Muhammad Najeeb Haroon and Qasim Khan Suri.
Two PTI lawmakers elected on reserve seats — Aliya Hamza Malik and Kanwal Shauzab — were also de-notified.
In addition to the 34 PTI lawmakers, the ECP also de-notified Awami Muslim League (AML) chief Sheikh Rashid Ahmed.
Late on Tuesday night, PTI’s Fawad Chaudhry said the party would contest the polls on all the seats vacated, adding that ex-premier Imran would be the party’s candidate on 33 seats.
The de-notification of the lawmakers comes days after PTI chief Imran stated that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif would be “tested” through a confidence vote in a tit-for-tat move similar to the one he himself had faced as the premier in April.
With PTI dissident Raja Riaz holding the parliamentary party leader’s position in the National Assembly, PTI fears that he may decide to vote in favour of the prime minister if President Dr Arif Alvi asks Shehbaz Sharif to take the trust vote.
Raja Riaz leads the group of PTI MNAs who did not tender their resignations when the party decided to quit the assembly in the aftermath of Imran’s ouster.
In a meeting with media persons at his Zaman Park residence on Monday, Imran said planning and consultations with party leaders as well as legal experts were afoot to strategise how PTI’s turncoats can be stopped from siding with the ruling coalition of Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM).
Speaking to the media in Lahore earlier today, PTI’s Fawad Chaudhry said that the after the dissolution of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab assemblies, the party would focus on “sending the government home”.
He said that the PTI wanted to sit down with the federal government to work on an electoral framework. He noted that while Pakistan’s economic woes were substantial, they could be solved if political stability was brought.
“We want the federal government to sit with us for [formulating] an election framework. But in the current situation, the federal government is adamant on not holding elections.”
He said that the PTI had formed a committee headed by Pervaiz Khattak that would go to the NA speaker and ask for party members to be given the offices of leader of the opposition, parliamentary leader and chairman of the public accounts committee.
“We are hopeful that the plan for ousting the federal government will be completed in a few weeks.”
Reacting to the denotification of the lawmakers, Fawad “thanked” the NA speaker for accepting the resignations.
“But until you accept 70 more resignations, the posts of the NA opposition leader and the chairman of the Public Accounts Committee belong to the PTI,” he said.
PTI central information secretary Farrukh Habib alleged the NA speaker had accepted the resignations with “ill intent” because he found out that the PTI intended to remove Raja Riaz as the NA opposition leader.
PTI leader Hammad Azhar alleged that the Election Commission had “received orders from Avenfield”. “Another clumsy attempt to run away from general elections,” he said.
PTI’s Zulfi Bukhari said that the NA speaker had claimed he couldn’t accept the resignations collectively and each lawmaker had to verify their resignations individually.
“Imran Khan thinks of re-entering the National Assembly to seek a vote of no-confidence against Shehbaz Sharif. Within minutes there’s a mass acceptance,” he said.
The PTI had announced mass resignations from the National Assembly in April last year, a day after party chief Imran Khan’s ouster as the prime minister through a no-confidence vote and shortly before Shehbaz Sharif was elected as his successor.
National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervez Ashraf on July 28, 2022 accepted the resignations of only 11 PTI lawmakers who had resigned after the vote of no confidence against the former PM.
The PTI had first challenged the move in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on August 1, contesting that it was “unsustainable”. The IHC, however, had dismissed the petition on Sept 6, 2022.
The party then approached the Supreme Court, praying it to set aside the IHC order, terming it “vague, cursory, and against the law”. A decision on the PTI’s plea in the apex court is still pending.
Ashraf told a PTI delegation on Dec 29, 2022 that the party’s lawmakers would be summoned individually for verification of their resignations as the latter insisted on them being accepted in one go.