‘Unsatisfied’ speaker won’t accept resignations of PTI MPs ‘sans confirmation’

ISLAMABAD: Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, the speaker of the National Assembly, refused to accept the resignations of parliamentarians from the opposition Pakistan-Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), who resigned en masse in April following the change of guard in the prime minister’s office (PMO) in April, “without making sure” they were not tendered under any pressure.

More than 120 MPs loyal to Imran Khan resigned on April 11, two days after he was removed from the PMO contentious vote of no-confidence marred by unprobed allegations of military support.

Former deputy speaker of the National Assembly, Qasim Suri — who was performing his duties as acting speaker after then-incumbent Asad Qaiser’s resignation — accepted the resignation letters on April 15.

However, once Ashraf was elected as the speaker, he decided to verify the resignations by interviewing lawmakers individually, but instead decided in favour of stalling the entire process by blaming it on the lawmakers’ reluctance to step down.

“The law dictates that even if a member says in [speaker’s] presence they want to resign but I have information that they are under pressure [sic], I should not accept their resignation,” he claimed, while speaking to the press in Lahore.

Such situations require a lot of thought process, the former prime minister said, declaring he will not accept the resignation letters until he was completely satisfied they were not stepping down under pressure.

He also alleged that even after the announcement of resignations, some party MPs continued to occupy official residences and avail perks given to lawmakers. “They also send me messages requesting not to accept their resignations,” he said, without clarifying how the government intended to address the matter.

Speaking about the political situation prevailing in the country, Ashraf expressed hope the lawmakers will return to the National Assembly and represent their constituencies. He said he wanted the House to complete its constitutional five-year tenure scheduled to end in October next year.

Ashraf said the Parliament is a place for legislation, law and order, and election reforms. He said it was time to put the matters aside and come together for a larger purpose. “We cannot move forward by ignoring the Parliament,” he added.

In reply to a question about “backdoor contacts” between the government and the opposition, he stressed that all political leaders and political parties should “address matters with consensus”.

“The government will be stable if a country has a strong Parliament,” he stressed.

Talking about the elections, he said the election will be fair and transparent only if the legislation is made better. “There is no time left for the elections as the fifth year has started,” he added.


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