PTI issues show cause notice to 14 dissident MPs

ISLAMABAD: 14 MPs from the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) who joined forces with the opposition withdrawing support for the prime minister ahead of the no-confidence vote received a showcase notice from the ruling party on Saturday.

Some half a dozen lawmakers from the party appeared on television on Thursday, announcing “we have differences with the prime minister”.

News channels showed recorded footage of several PTI MPs at Sindh House, an office of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) government of Sindh, in Islamabad, stoking fears and claims of horsetrading.

PTI Secretary-General Asad Umar has given the legislators until March 26 to respond to the notice.

The notice observed the MPs, in crossing the floor, violated not only the party discipline but also the Constitution.

It recalled that as per Article-63 (1)(A), the MPs are bound to follow the policy of their political party.

“It is learnt via videos circulated on media that you have left the parliamentary party [of PTI] and joined the opposition who have brought a motion of vote of no-confidence against the prime minister [on] March 8,” it read.

Therefore, a notice is being issued to you under Article-63 (1)(A), it added and directed the lawmakers to appear before the prime minister to clarify their position.

The MPs include Raja Riaz Ahmad Khan, Nawab Sher Waseer, Noor Alam Khan, Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, Wajiha Akram, Nuzhat Pathan, Rana Qasim Noon, Riaz Mazari, Khawaja Sheraz Mehmood, Malik Ahmed Dehar, Abdul Ghaffar Wattoo, Basit Bukhari, Aamir Talal Gopang and Afzal Dhandla.

Without the coalition partners and the dissidents, the PTI, which has 155 seats in the National Assembly, would fall short of the 172 needed to retain power.

The joint opposition consists of major parties such as the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and has a strength of nearly 163 in the House.

Minister for Information Fawad Chaudhry told a news conference the government is “clear that we will not get into any blackmailing to save our government.”

“We reject this culture of turncoats.”

Minister for Interior Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad told a news conference it had been decided to seek the Supreme Court’s ruling about whether the defectors are eligible to cast a vote after switching sides.

Ahmad said the decision was taken in a meeting chaired by Khan. But he did not say when the petition would be filed.

“I want to ask all of you to get back […] We wouldn’t do anything against you,” he said in an appeal to the dissidents.

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