National Assembly Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri on Thursday announced he had accepted the resignations of 123 Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) lawmakers from the Lower House following the ouster of party Chairman Imran Khan from the office of the prime minister.
“I have received resignations of 125 members of the National Assembly belonging to Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf as earlier announced in the House by Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Hussain Qureshi, deputy parliamentary leader, PTI, on April 11, 2022,” read a notification issued by Suri. “I have perused all the resignations and reached to the conclusion that all of them except resignation of Prince Muhammad Nawaz Allai, NA-12, and Jawwad Hussain, NA-47, are given voluntarily and are genuine. Hence, in the light of Rule 43 of Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the National Assembly, 2007, I accept these 123 resignations and order to notify the same in the Gazette,” he added.
Khan was ousted on Saturday night following a no-confidence motion submitted by the former opposition. The PTI has sought to allege this was the result of a “foreign conspiracy” hatched by the United States, however this has been denied by Washington, the opposition, and Pakistan’s military. Shortly after his ouster, the former prime minister directed his MNAs to resign from the National Assembly en masse, saying that he did not accept the “imported government” and would “force” early elections through protests.
“Want to appreciate our 123 MNAs as their resignations have been accepted by Speaker Qasim Suri. Their standing firm for a sovereign Pakistan and against U.S.-initiated regime change bringing to power criminals, convicted and on bail—the ultimate insult to any self-respecting independent nation,” Khan wrote on Twitter after Suri’s announcement.
The PTI had boasted over 150 MNAs in the Lower House prior to the vote of no-confidence. Among the lawmakers who have not resigned are dissident members who had earlier announced they could no longer support Khan. On Thursday, the former prime minister wrote to the Election Commission of Pakistan informing it that all PTI MNAs had resigned from the National Assembly, adding that no PTI lawmaker should be appointed leader of the opposition or member of the parliamentary committee. Separately, Khan has approached the Supreme Court of Pakistan to rule on disqualifying “for life” any lawmakers who vote against party policy.
While Suri has said he has accepted the resignations of 123 MNAs, former speaker Ayaz Sadiq of the PMLN and Senator Sherry Rehman of the PPP earlier this week said they had received reports of several PTI lawmakers having been “forced” to resign. Legal experts have also questioned Suri’s authority in the matter as he is currently facing a vote of no-confidence that was set to be voted on April 16 until he delayed the session till April 22. It is unclear whether the deputy speaker’s ruling will be challenged in a bid to retain some of the departing PTI members.
Following the mass resignation, it is up to the incumbent government to either proceed toward early elections or seek to restore the Lower House’s parliamentary strength through by-elections.