NA without opposition as speaker ‘approves’ resignation of 43 more PTI MPs

ISLAMABAD: Just a day after Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) withdrew the resignations of its remaining 44 members of the National Assembly whose resignations had yet to be accepted by the speaker, Raja Pervaiz Ashraf Tuesday approved the letters of an additional 43 MPs, Geo News reported, citing sources.

Officials from the speaker’s office requesting anonymity said Ashraf had approved the resignations in recent days and had already sent a summary recommending their de-notification to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

The latest development brings the total number of opposition MPs whose resignations have been accepted to 112.

The approval of the resignations comes a day after at least 45 PTI MPs attempted to meet the speaker in order to withdraw their resignations.

Through the move, the party had aimed to appoint one of its members as the leader of the opposition in the National Assembly, and Asad Umar, secretary general of the opposition party, said Monday they had also informed Speaker Ashraf of the decision via email.

However, the development means that only dissident lawmakers of the party, headed by “turncoat” opposition leader Raja Riaz Ahmed, remain in the National Assembly at present.

Fawad Chaudhry, senior vice president of the party, Tuesday said the main reason for returning to the assembly was to remove Ahmed from the post since the parliament had “no importance”.

He tweeted: “Right now, Shehbaz Sharif has lost the support of 172 members and is relying on lotas (turncoats) to save his government.”

More than 120 MPs loyal to former prime minister Imran Khan resigned en masse on April 11, two days after he was ousted following a contentious vote of no-confidence marred by unprobed allegations of military intervention.

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.

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

However, last week, after Khan hinted at “testing” the prime minister through a confidence vote in a tit-for-tat move similar to the one he himself had faced, Ashraf accepted 35 resignations from PTI lawmakers and sent the list to the commission.

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