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New triumph for Imran and PTI,ECP de-seats their 25 dissidents

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) and his leader Imran Khan today (Friday) won their case when the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) de-seated 25 dissident MPAs of the PTI who voted for PML-N’s Hamza Shehbaz in the election for Punjab chief minister, stating that they had defected from the party.

The ruling was hailed by PTI senior leader Asad Umar, who, along with other supporters standing outside the ECP’s offices, congratulated the nation for standing against the “conspiracy, the foreign intervention”. “Today, another chapter of this conspiracy has been exposed,” he added.

The decision comes days after the Supreme Court’s decision on a presidential reference seeking its interpretation of Article 63-A, related to the disqualification of lawmakers over defection, which was announced earlier this week.

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP)

Article 63-A seeks to restrict lawmakers from voting (or abstaining) in violation of party instructions “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”.

In its interpretation of this Article, the apex court said votes cast against party direction “cannot be counted and must be disregarded, and this is so regardless of whether the party head, subsequent to such vote, proceeds to take, or refrains from taking, action that would result in a declaration of defection”.

The votes of the 25 PTI dissidents had been instrumental in helping Hamza get over the line; he received a total of 197 votes while 186 votes are required for a simple majority. Since these 25 lawmakers are no longer members of the House, Hamza has lost his majority.

The PTI and PML-Q’s Chaudhry Parvez Elahi have also approached the Lahore High Court (LHC) for declaring Hamza’s election as “illegal” in light of the SC’s interpretation.

Aleem Khan (left), Nauman Langrial (middle) and Nazeer Chohan.

The ECP had reserved its verdict on the reference on May 17, stating that it would be announced the next day (Wednesday) at 12pm. However, the announcement was later postponed.

Following Hamza’s election as the chief minister on April 16, the PTI had sent a declaration for declaring the 25 MPAs as defectors to Punjab Assembly Speaker Elahi, who was also the PTI-PML-Q’s joint candidate for the CM Office.

Subsequently, Elahi had sent the reference to the ECP, urging it to de-seat these lawmakers for defecting from the PTI by casting their votes in Hamza’s favour in violation of party directions.

Most of the 25 dissident MPAs tried to justify their action of voting in favour of Hamza by claiming that they had received no directives from the party. They raised procedural objections and claimed they never received any show-cause notices — a mandatory requirement.

PTI lawmakers who are de-seated by Election Commission

However, PTI’s counsel, Barrister Ali Zafar, argued that the MPAs were issued instructions by the party’s chief whip in the Punjab Assembly, as well as, Secretary General Asad Umar through a letter.

Who are the unseated MPAs?

  • Raja Sagheer Ahmed (PP-7 Rawalpindi)
  • Malik Ghulam Rasool Sangha (PP-83 Khushab)
  • Saeed Akbar Khan (PP-90 Bhakkar)
  • Muhammad Ajmal Cheema (PP-97 Faisalabad)
  • Aleem Khan (PP-158 Lahore)
  • Nazeer Chohan (PP-167 Lahore)
  • Mohammad Ameen Zulqarnain (PP-170 Lahore)
  • Noman Langrial (PP-202 Sahiwal)
  • Mohammad Salman (PP-217 Multan)
  • Zawar Warraich (PP-224 Lodhran)
  • Nazeer Ahmed Khan (PP-228 Lodhran)
  • Fida Hussain (PP-237 Bahawalnagar)
  • Zahra Batool (PP-272 Muzaffargarh)
  • Mohammad Tahir (PP-282 Layyah)
  • Ayesha Nawaz (W-322 special seat)
  • Sajida Yousuf (W-327 special seat)
  • Haroon Imran Gill (NM-364 minority seat)
  • Uzma Kardar (W-311 reserved seat)
  • Malik Asad Khokar (PP-168 Lahore)
  • Aijaz Masih (NM-365 minority seat)
  • Sibtain Raza (PP-273 Muzaffargarh)
  • Mohsin Ata Khan Khosa (PP-288 DG Khan)
  • Mian Khalid Mehmood (PP-140 Sheikhupura)
  • Mehr Mohammad Aslam (PP-127 Jhang)
  • Faisal Hayat (PP-125 Jhang)

A total of 16 of these MPAs belong to the disgruntled Jahangir Tareen group, five to the Aleem Khan group and four to the Asad Khokhar group of PTI.

There are a total of 371 members in the Punjab Assembly, and after the unseating of the 25 members, there will be a total of 346 members in the House.

List-1

Of the total number of MPs who have been unseated, five held special seats. And after getting the five reserved seats, the number of PTI members will increase to 163.

List-2

The PML-Q has ten members in the Punjab Assembly, while the number of opposition members in the provincial assembly is 177.

Among the 177 members, there are 165 members of PML-N, seven members of the PPP, one member of Rah-e-Haq Party and four independent candidates.

List-3

If the four deviant PML-N members do not cast their votes, only 173 will be left in the opposition. Amid the new situation, the votes of Chaudhry Nisar and the four independent candidates will be very important.

Asad Umar says verdict great achievement

Speaking to journalists outside the ECP, former planning minister and senior PTI leader Asad Umar congratulated the nation, saying “another chapter of heinous politics has closed today”.

“Some of the political parties have used politics for businesses as they are involved in horse-trading,” Umar said, adding that these people [the current leadership] come into power by investing money and earn more by misusing their power.

He highlighted that it was the former prime minister and PTI Chairman Imran Khan who stood against such political practices.

Referring to the Supreme Court’s verdict on Article 63(A), Umar said that first the apex court’s verdict and now the ECP’s decision is a “great achievement”.

Highlighting that these 25 turncoats are no longer members of the provincial assembly, Umar expressed his sympathy for those who have invested in them.

He reiterated that the time for consultations is over and the coalition government should announce fresh elections. However, the politician said that PTI doesn’t trust the CEC. “His [CEC Raja] status would be doubtful if he supervises the elections.”

Commenting on the prevailing economic crises in the country, Umar said: “The economy is stagnant. There is uncertainty. The country has witnessed external interference and bidding of conscience […] now the people want to see change,” he said.

ECP’s decision does not affect

Punjab govt: Marriyum Aurangzeb

Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb, following the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) decision of de-seating 25 dissident members belonging to the PTI, said the decision does not affect the Punjab government.

She criticised the PTI and said that the party Chairman Imran Khan was earlier hurling abuses at the commission and was asking his followers to attack its office, but now — after receiving a decision in his party’s favour — he is all praises for the ECP.

She emphasised that the decision was “only for the 25 dissident PTI members”. She said that the de-seating of these 24 members does not affect Chief Minister Punjab Hamza Shahbaz, elections, and the Punjab government as the allied parties already have the votes of 177 members.

Berating the former, PTI-led government, the PML-N leader said that “these are the people who want to cling on to power no matter how much they hurt the country’s situation”.

Aurangzeb further said that the dissident members are those who showed a lack of confidence in their party’s decision and decided to vote for someone else, adding that the PTI’s defecting parliamentarians voted against Khan publicly.

The information minister went on to say that these members are eligible to cast their votes for the no-confidence motion. “They knew about the consequences and voted against their party and in favour of the nation,” she said.

She added that those 25 members have not been de-seated but their action is akin to a slap on Khan’s face. “They have the right to challenge the ECP’s decision,” said the information minister.

Criticising the Imran Khan-led government, the PML-N leader further maintained that it “looted the nation for four years and benefitted the cartels and mafias.”

Aurangzeb said that Khan should be held accountable in the foreign-funding case and should also clarify the position of his wife’s friend, Farah Gogi, who has been accused of corruption. She added that the decision regarding the foreign-funding case should be announced within a day just, after which, a ban should be imposed on the PTI.