NA Speaker denies receiving LHC orders to restore PTI lawmakers

-Says he hasn’t received LHC order suspending resignations of 43 lawmakers
-While some PTI MPs arrive in Parliament House with an aim to bring in own opposition leader

Staff Report

ISLAMABAD: National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf said on Thursday that the NA Secretariat had not yet received the Lahore High Court’s order — in which the acceptance of the resignations of 43 PTI lawmakers was suspended — as the de-notified MNAs arrived at the Parliament House.
The PTI resigned en masse from the NA last year in April. After Ashraf stalled the process for months, he accepted the resignations earlier this year, following which the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) de-notified 123 MNAs (including reserved seats).
However, on Wednesday, LHC suspended the de-notification orders of 43 party MNAs and issued notices to the federal government and the electoral body.In a video message yesterday, Ashraf said that he had not received the LHC’s order nor was it in his knowledge. “The order is not with us we can’t read it or go into the details.”
He stated that the government was only made a “party” in the case, which he claimed they “heard on television and have not received the notice”. “I believe that once the decision comes and we read it we will consult our lawyers and experts and then decide the way forward,” the NA speaker added.
On the other hand, the PTI lawmakers Sajida Begum, Rai Murtaza Iqbal, Nusrat Wahid, Shanila Ruth, Asma Hamid, Ghazals Saifi and Jai Parkash — whose resignations have been suspended — arrived at the Parliament House on Thursday morning with an aim to “bring in our own opposition leader”. Talking to reporters outside NA secretariat, the Senate’s Opposition Leader Shahzad Waseem said that the speaker was bound to respect the court’s orders. “The high court has clearly said that the speaker’s acceptance of resignations is illegal,” he asserted, adding that PTI lawmakers will go to the Parliament. “God willing, we will have our own opposition leader,” Waseem added.
PTI lawmakers had resigned en masse from the lower house of parliament following the ouster of PTI chief Imran Khan in April last year.

NA Speaker Ashraf on July 28, 2022, accepted the resignations of only 11 PTI lawmakers.

The PTI had challenged the “piecemeal acceptance” in the Islamabad High Court (IHC), contesting that it was “unsustainable”. The IHC, however, had dismissed the petition on Sept 6, 2022.

The party then approached the Supreme Court, praying it to set aside the IHC order, terming it “vague, cursory, and against the law”. A decision on the PTI’s plea in the apex court is still pending.

Ashraf told a PTI delegation on Dec 29, 2022, that the party’s lawmakers would be summoned individually for verification of their resignations as the latter insisted on them being accepted in one go.

But after stalling the process for eight months, the NA speaker accepted the resignations of 34 PTI MNAs on Jan 17 and 35 MNAs on Jan 20, including Awami Muslim League chief Sheikh Rashid, as the party hinted it would “test” Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif with a confidence vote.

On Jan 24, 43 PTI MNAs had written to the NA speakers withdrawing their resignations. However, the speaker had already accepted the resignations by then. Subsequently, on Jan 25, the ECP de-notified 43 more PTI lawmakers, taking the total number to 123.