The acceptance by National Assembly Speakers Raja Pervez Ashraf of another 35 resignations of PTI MNAs n Friday, brought to 70 the total number of resignations accepted in three days, and 81 in all. The motive may have been political, as the PTI was left unable to oust the Shehbaz government if it came back to the National Assembly. The resignations were tendered in the stormy session of Aprill 11 last year, when PTI chief Imran Khan was ousted by the passage of a vote of n confidence, and the PTI has, along with the announcement of an election date, also demanded the acceptance of these resignations. When a PTI delegation called on the Speaker recently, it also refused the Speaker’s condition that members individually appear before him and c confirm their resignations. The Speaker was relying on a number of superior court judgements which specified the Speaker’s duty in matters of resignation. The PTI was insisting on the acceptance of the resignations without individual appearances. However, now that it suited the government, the resignations were accepted without bothering with any personal appearances.
It seems the government is announcing indirectly that it is here for the long haul. The woeful economic situation was making it obvious that, battered as it was, the government would have to bite the bullet and go cap in hand to the IMF, accepting in advance its conditionalities. These conditionalities include an electricity tariff hike and the free float of the dollar, which would take it much closer to Rs 200 to the dollar than it presently is. This would automatically be reflected in higher fuel prices, which would show up in everything. A wave of inflation is about to be unleashed which makes the danger of a hyperinflation loom very large. One way of avoiding this was for the government to cave in, and give the PTI the election it wanted. In that case, accepting resignations did not make any sense. However, now the government has made clear that it intends to carry on, and is willing to have a series of by-elections, which cannot be avoided, because the seats have been vacated well before the 120-day limit, which prevents by-elections being held to seats falling vacant within 120 days of the end of an assembly’s tenure.
Thus, though apparently increasing the political instability and thus strengthening the PI’s hand in its call for a dissolution, by accepting the resignations, the government may actually be signaling to all interlocutors that it is here until the National Assembly is.