45 lawmakers of Imran Khan’s party withdraw resignations from Pak’s National Assembly

Islamabad, Jan 23 (PTI) In a twist of events, 45 lawmakers of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf on Monday collectively withdrew their resignations from the National Assembly on orders of party chairman and former prime minister Imran Khan.

At least 123 lawmakers of Khan’s party had decided to quit immediately after he was removed from power through a no-trust vote in April last year. However, Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf had accepted resignations of only 11 of them in July last while insisting that the remaining lawmakers would be summoned individually for verification.

In an unexpected move, the speaker last week accepted 69 more resignations, forcing Khan’s party to change its strategy.

Khan ordered his party’s lawmakers to withdraw their resignations to force the government to let his party become the main opposition party in the parliament.

Senior leader Asad Umar said that the lawmakers sent emails to Speaker Ashraf, informing him about the decision. “The next step will be the nomination of the opposition leader,” Umar tweeted.

The opposition leader in the house is an important player as the caretaker prime minister appointed to oversee elections is nominated after consultations with the opposition leader.

Former information minister Fawad Chaudhry said that the decision to withdraw resignations was taken so that the party could take back the posts of the leader of the opposition and parliamentary party leader.

In the absence of the PTI, the post of opposition leader was allotted to the dissident lawmakers of Khan’s party who had refused to resign.

PTI lawmakers staged a sit-in outside the speaker’s house to force him to accept their requests immediately.

The party lawmakers also met with the officials of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) in Islamabad and requested that they should not be denotified if the NA Speaker approves their resignations.

The PTI made the request after it informed the electoral body that their lawmakers are withdrawing their resignations and the NA speaker has been informed about it.

So far total 80 PTI lawmakers’ resignations have been accepted. But it is still the largest opposition party. The shrewd move to withdraw resignations may help to play a role in the appointment of caretaker government ahead of elections whenever held.

Khan’s party has already dissolved the provincial assemblies of Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa to press the federal government to call early elections.

So far the government has refused to announce the snap polls, saying that election for the dissolved assemblies would be held within mandatory 90 days and that of the federal parliament after 60 days of the end of the current term in mid-August.