NA Speaker to begin verification of the resignations

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ISLAMABAD: National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf is set to begin the process of verification of the resignations of 131 members belonging to the formerly ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and Awami Muslim League (AML) from June 6 as the NA Secretariat on Monday sent notices to the lawmakers, asking them to appear in person before the speaker to testify that they had submitted their resignations voluntarily and not under duress.

According to a spokesman for the NA Secretariat, the speaker had decided to meet 30 MNAs to complete the process by June 10 — the day the new coalition government is set to present the budget for the next fiscal year. The speaker has allocated five minutes for each member.

The speaker is beginning the process after nearly two months and at a time when there are reports in some political and media circles that the PTI was reconsidering its decision to quit the assembly.

The notices have been issued to the members in pursuance of Rule 43-2(b) of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the National Assembly 2007 which states that “if the speaker receives the letter of resignation by any other means and he, after such inquiry as he thinks fit, either himself or through the NA Secretariat or through any other agency, is satisfied that the resignation is voluntary and genuine, the speaker shall inform the Assembly of the resignation”.

“Honourable speaker has desired to invite you in his chamber for inquiry regarding voluntary chamber and genuineness of aforesaid resignation letter before its acceptance,” says the notice sent to the members by the NA Secretariat.

Former speaker Asad Qaiser and former ministers Pervez Khattak and Ali Muhammad Khan are among those required to appear before Mr Ashraf on the first day of the start of the process on June 6, whereas PTI chairman and former prime minister Imran Khan is scheduled to appear in the speaker’s chamber for verification of his resignation the next day.

Similarly, PTI vice chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi and his son Zain Hussain Qureshi will have to appear before the speaker on June 8.

When contacted, AML president Sheikh Rashid said that so far he had not received any notice from the NA Secretariat. The former interior minister said he had already resigned from the assembly on the directive of Imran Khan despite the fact that he was not a part of the PTI.

“I will do what Imran says,” said Mr Rashid, when asked if he would appear before the speaker for the verification of his resignation.

Sources in the government claimed that some two dozen PTI MNAs had already approached the speaker seeking a meeting with him to clarify their stance.

Earlier, sources in the NA Secretariat had said a majority of the resignations submitted by the PTI MNAs were not handwritten and had a similar text printed on the PTI’s letterhead. They said the secretariat staff also had doubts over the signatures of some members as these were not matching with those on the assembly’s roll.

Most of these MNAs had submitted their resignations on the day of the election of Shehbaz Sharif as the country’s new prime minister on April 11 following the ouster of Imran Khan through a successful vote of no confidence. Some of the MNAs, including former deputy speaker Qasim Khan Suri and Sheikh Rashid submitted their resignations later.

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