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Election Commission of Pakistan to conduct bye-elections of 123 seats

Mr. Imran Khan has taken a back seat, with 123 PTI MNAs having hurriedly resigned from the National Assembly and their resignations being approved early thanks to the acting Speaker's political sympathies. He has sat in the National Assembly while agitating on the streets, but he has gladly given up that option in order to increase pressure on the government to call an early election.

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The dramatic exit of the PTI from the National Assembly and the resignations of its MNAs, some openly, others reluctantly have serious constitutional ramifications. A simple majority of 174 out of 341 members may be enough for a successful no-vote confidence move and Shabaz Sharif in it is not sufficient for day-to-day unchallengeable legislative governance. With PTI exodus, 16.9 million Pakistanis who voted for it in the 2018 general elections have no voice left within Parliament. Their leader exhorts them to vent their anger instead in the streets. Pakistan is in a state of shock, its Parliament has been lobotomized. That is a dangerous situation.

The notification signed by NA secretary Mr. Tahir Hussain has declared that after submission of the resignations their seats have become vacant in terms of Article 64 (1) of the constitution with effect from April 11. It’s surprising the NA Secretariat officials are, however, tightened their lips over the development. The notification containing the names of 123 MNAs was illegally released by former State Minister Farrukh Habib through his Twitter account, stating that after acceptance of the resignations of 123 MNAs, fresh elections in the country become imminent.

Read more: Why Pakistan needs to focus on its presidential and parliamentary system?

Understanding the proceeding

As per rule 43 of Parliament, its proceedings are contrary to rules of business and PTI is playing foul. As for my interview, it’s totally illegal and the Election Commission of Pakistan before withdrawing its notification issued on 9th August 2018 would clarify from the Secretariat of NA.

Now it’s after Raja Pervaiz Ashraf assumed National Assembly speaker the ruling alliance is making a way out that there is a consensus among the coalition partners that after the removal of Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjarani through a no-trust resolution, Syed Yousaf  Raza Gilani (PPPP) who is also a former Prime Minister of Pakistan like Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, will be the candidate for the Senate Chairman office.

With 123 PTI MNAs having hastily resigned from the National Assembly and the early approval of their resignations secured, thanks to the political sympathies of the acting Speaker, Mr. Imran khan has painted himself into a corner. He has sat in the National Assembly while agitating on the streets, but he has willingly sacrificed that option to build pressure for an early election. The only option he wants open for himself at the moment. To force that outcome, he will need to build enough pressure on the state that it capitulates to his demands.

Read more: Why electronic voting machines cannot be used in elections?

This pressure can either be built over time or by intensifying his rhetoric. Option A will not be easy, emotions may be running high right now, but will Mr. Imran khan will be able to keep his supporters engaged for months if needed? Or Mr. Imran khan will go for option B and push the public and the state towards confrontation, the opportunity for which has been presented to him on a silver platter? As the foreign funding case is in the final stage and it is apprehensive that he himself and his party would face consequences as per sections 204, 210, 212 and 215 of the Elections Act 2017 and Article 17 of the constitution.

 

Kanwar Dilshad is former Secretary, Election Commission of Pakistan, Islamabad. He is the Founder and Chairman of the National Democratic Foundation. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.

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