ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) today decided against de-seating 20 dissident Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Members of National Assembly (MNAs) and dismissed references against them. The ECP has announced its reserved decision on Wednesday.
This issue surfaced in March after several PTI lawmakers were found staying at the Sindh House in Islamabad ahead of the no-trust vote against then-prime minister Imran Khan, some of whom spoke to the media about their grievances with the party.
They had refuted allegations that they had been offered money to make the opposition’s no-trust move a success but said they would vote in accordance with their “conscience”.
Subsequently, the PTI had filed declarations and references against 20 members of the National Assembly, seeking their disqualification under Article 63-A of the Constitution.
The PTI had filed references against MNAs Noor Alam Khan, Dr Mohammad Afzal Khan Dhandla, Nawab Sher Waseer, Raja Riaz Ahmad, Ahmed Hussain Deharr, Rana Mohammad Qasim Noon, Asim Nazeer, Amjad Farooq Khosa, Aamir Liaquat Hussain, Chaudhry Farrukh Altaf, Syed Mobeen Ahmed, Sayed Sami-ul-Hassan Gillani, Mohammad Abdul Ghaffar Wattoo, Sayed Basit Ahmad Sultan, Aamir Talal Gopang, Sardar Riaz Mehmood Khan Mazari, Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, Wajiha Qamar, Nuzhat Pathan and Javeria Zafar.
Eventually, the dissident MNAs’ votes were not needed in Imran’s removal, as the opposition managed to stitch together support from government-allied political parties.
After Imran Khan was removed as prime minister on the night of April 9, his declarations against the dissident PTI MNAs were sent to the ECP on April 14 by the acting NA speaker.
Last month, the Election Commission had issued notices to the 20 MNAs, directing them to appear before it.
In their written replies, the defected MNAs said they had neither resigned from the PTI nor joined any other political party, nor voted against their party’s stated line.
The declaration and the reference were “baseless, unsubstantiated and vague”, one reply read.
“It has been actuated by bad faith in order to suppress a voice of dissent within the party lines. Such actions are tantamount to converting the party into an authoritarian group commanded in a dictatorial mindset of one individual,” the reply said.
Another reply submitted to the ECP said the reference and the declaration did not fulfil the mandatory requirements under Article 63-A.
According to Article 63-A of the Constitution, a parliamentarian can be disqualified on grounds of defection if he “votes or abstains from voting in the House contrary to any direction issued by the parliamentary party to which he belongs, in relation to election of the prime minister or chief minister; or a vote of confidence or a vote of no-confidence; or a money bill or a Constitution (amendment) bill”.
The article says that the party head has to declare in writing that the MNA concerned has defected but before making the declaration, the party head will “provide such member with an opportunity to show cause as to why such declaration may not be made against him”.
After giving the member a chance to explain their reasons, the party head will forward the declaration to the speaker, who will forward it to the chief election commissioner (CEC). The CEC will then have 30 days to confirm the declaration. If confirmed by the CEC, the member “shall cease to be a member of the House and his seat shall become vacant”.