The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) is indecisive regarding knocking at the Supreme Court’s doors to challenge the acceptance of en masse resignations of its lawmakers by National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf.
The party is expected to take a final decision in this regard soon.
Meanwhile, it was learnt that PTI leadership was carefully calculating its next step as it was conscious of the fact that such a move might come at the risk of undermining its popular narrative of opting out of the parliament in protest to mount pressure against the PDM.
The piecemeal acceptance of resignations comes after the former ruling party hinted at its possible return to the parliament in a bid to reclaim key slots and turn the tables on the ruling coalition.
Thus far, the speaker has accepted 80 PTI resignations with 50 still pending.
It is being reckoned that the NA speaker’s volte-face could also be designed to ensure the PTI does not have a say in the process of forming the caretaker government for the coming general elections.
It is pertinent to mention that Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial had recently suggested that PTI should consider adopting parliamentary means to amend the NAB law, instead of pursuing the matter before the apex court.
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During the hearing of petitions against changes to the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) on Tuesday, the CJP had asked the federal government's attorney Makhdoom Ali Khan to seek instructions from his client on whether they would want a bi-partisan solution to it by sitting with the PTI MNAs to review the NAB law amendments in case they return to parliament.
When the same question was put to Imran Khan’s counsel Khawaja Haris, the court was told that relinquishing the lower house of the parliament was a political question. He explained it was always difficult to reach a definite decision when the political situation was volatile.
Nonetheless, the counsel was also asked to get instructions on whether the PTI was open to joining parliament.
However, the very same day, in a dizzying U-turn apparently to derail PTI’s return, the NA speaker accepted the resignations of 34 PTI lawmakers. Interestingly, the top court kept mum on the surprising acceptance of resignation during the next day’s hearing.
Justice Ijazul Ahsan, who is hearing several high-profile cases, has already wondered how the NA speaker could adopt a policy of ‘pick-and-choose’ when it comes to accepting resignations.
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The PTI has also moved a petition in the apex court for the acceptance of their MNAs’ resignations. The matter’s still pending. There is a chance that the PTI may move a plea for the early hearing of the case.
A senior PTI lawyer said that the bench should be informed that the NA speaker went on to accept the resignations just after the top's query regarding the PTI’s return to parliament.
Delay in polls likely
Meanwhile, it was learnt that elections in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) might see a delay due to a lack of funds for the expenditure as the ECP requires billions of rupees to pull off the gigantic task.
Sources said the election watchdog would request the federal government to provide funds for the elections.
On the other hand, the government is facing an immense shortage of funds. Likewise, no funds have been earmarked for holding the general elections in the current year as they will be allocated in the next fiscal year.
Senior lawyers believe that the role of the Supreme Court will be significant to delay the elections in two provinces wherein the assembly have been dissolved and as per the Constitution, the ECP is bound to hold elections within 90 days.
Currently, two posts of judges are vacant in the apex court. The support of the federal government's representatives will be crucial for the approval of CJP Umar Ata Bandial's nominees regarding their appointment in the SC.