National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf on Friday reiterated that the process pertaining to the mass resignations of 123 Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) lawmakers would be dealt with in accordance with the law.
The speaker said that the resignations had been de-sealed. For the resignations to be verified, however, he said he would have to meet the MNAs by calling them individually to his chamber to hold a one-on-one discussion.
The process of accepting the resignations would begin soon, he added.
Earlier in the day, the NA speaker visited the monument of democracy established on the lawns of Parliament House.
Ashraf said the incumbent government would not forget the sacrifices rendered by the unsung heroes of democracy and shall continue to ameliorate the living standards of the masses.
Democracy and constitutional supremacy owed a lot to the sacrifices of common people, he added.
He said Zulfiqar Ail Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto laid their lives for the transition of true democracy in the country besides bringing social and economic reforms to the downtrodden segments of the society.
He stressed that democracy was the only solution to all issues faced by the common people, adding as a nation, "we should remove all the differences to uphold the supremacy of the Constitution and rule of law".
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The resignation controversy
The former deputy speaker Qasim Suri had accepted the en masse resignations tendered by the formerly ruling party and directed the NA Secretariat to issue a notification.
However, the newly appointed speaker Raja Pervaiz declared all the resignations unacceptable and decided to review the process afresh.
On April 14, the PTI released the NA Secretariat’s notification on social media declaring that 123 party MNAs “resigned from their seats by writing under their hand” to the speaker. Signed by NA Secretary Tahir Hussain, it declared that after submission of the resignations their seats had become vacant in terms of Article 64(1) of the Constitution, with effect from April 11.
However, the NA Secretariat officials kept a hush on the matter and later revealed that since the entire episode was riddled with controversy, the new speaker’s prerogative on it would be taken as effective and legal.
The ruling of the 22nd speaker of the assembly to look at the resignations again came amid claims that some of the PTI lawmakers were now willing to retract and have been conveying messages that their resignations should not be accepted.
Ashraf’s ruling has opened up the chapter of the resignation once again and it is being conjectured that the process of verification would ‘deliberately’ take some time to give the newly-formed government some time to settle down.
The issue of PTI lawmakers wanting to take back their resignations surfaced after PML-N leader Ayaz Sadiq revealed on the floor of the house that several PTI MNAs have called him to convey that their resignations should not be accepted as they were given under pressure.
Sadiq said that the verification afresh was crucial as the resignations that have so far been given were on cyclostyle papers when the rules state that they should be in the members’ own handwriting.
Secondly, he said, individual verification has not taken place, which is an imperative part of the process.
Meanwhile, NA secretariat officials had confirmed that the resignations accepted by Suri were never sent to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), saying the former deputy speaker was clearly told that the process that he had adopted to accept the resignations was not correct. However, they said, Suri proceeded ahead and accepted the resignations.