The Lahore High Court cancelled the notification of the acceptance of the resignation of 72 PTI MNAs, thus pave the way for their return to the National Assembly, and also for similar decisions by other High Courts where cases of MNAs from those provinces are pending. The LHC has ruled that the resignations cannot be accepted unless they appear personally before the Speaker and confirm their resignation. The Speaker will have to convince himself of two things when accepting a resignation: that the signature is genuine, and that there was no coercion or other pressure applied while affixing it. The members have already told the LHC that they signed only because they had been told it was a pressure tactic.
It will probably up to the Speaker to accept that explanation or not, but rejecting it will mean further investigations. He will be disinclined to accept it for partisan reasons, as even the present accretion, which does not complete the number of returning PTI MNAs, is enough to get rid of Raja Riaz was Leader of the Opposition, a post which he enjoys by virtue of 21 PTI dissidents, who claim not to have left their party. The fate of those dissidents would become doubtful if the new Leader of Opposition was to invoke the anti-defection law. However, even if the members are unseated, there may well not be enough time for by-elections, the House being close to the end of its tenure. The government may try to delay the return of the members until after the passage of the Budget, because it would not like a vocal opposition around for that exercise. The PTI’s return to the House would mean an acceptance that the resignations of April 2022 were an emotional reaction to the ouster of the PTI government, and a mistake. Just like the dissolution of the KP and Punjab Assemblies, the resignations failed to get the party the fresh elections it craves.
However, the return of the PTI to the National Assembly should be welcomed. It means a return to the parliamentary politics that it had eschewed in the past, and an acknowledgement that Parliament has greater aims than electing Mr Imran Khan PM. Apart from legislation, there is also the new factor introduced after May 9, where the PTI needs all the help it can get. The new development will bring about change in the political scenario, whichever way one sees it.