LAHORE, Feb 25: The saga of resignation of nine Pakistan People’s Party MPAs defecting to the Muslim League-Nawaz took another turn on Monday when the Punjab Assembly deputy speaker declared that their resignations had been accepted on Feb 17 and not in December last, as the lawmakers claimed.
PPP legislators Nishat Ahmed Daha, Syed Jamil Shah, Rana Babar Husain and Abbas Zafar Hiraj (Khanewal district), Rana Munawwar Husain and Sardar Kamil Gujjar (Sargodha), Javed Alauddin (Okara), Qaiser Sandhu (Gujranwala) and Azma Zahid Bukhari (reserved seat) had joined the PML-N on Feb 15. The MPAs had claimed they quitted the PPP two months ago as the speaker accepted their resignations on Dec 14.
PPP deputy parliamentary leader Shaukat Basra said Speaker Rana Iqbal told the party legislators that the defected members’ resignations had been accepted in December.
PPP central Punjab president Manzoor Wattoo had called Rana Iqbal’s act of accepting back date resignations “immoral and an insult to the office of the speaker”.
Deputy Speaker Rana Mashhood said the speaker office received the resignations of nine PPP MPAs on Feb 17, not on Dec 14, and were subsequently accepted.
“The speaker has not accepted the resignations of the MPAs in question in the back date. On Feb 15 they announced joining the PML-N and on Feb 17 they tendered their resignations to the speaker office which were accepted the same day,” Mr Mashhood told Dawn.
Mr Basra, however, claimed the speaker office in anticipation of the possible action of Election Commission against these MPAs had changed its strategy and accepted their resignations after they joined the PML-N. “The speaker could have been in trouble had he accepted their resignations in back date. We have the proof of these MPAs attending the session, withdrawing salaries etc after Dec 14,” he said.
“I have spoken to Chief Election Commissioner Fakhruddin. G. Ibrahim (on the issue) who assured me that action will be taken against the MPAs in question in accordance with the law,” Basra added.
A source in the PML-N said the nine MPAs in fact had submitted their resignations to the party leadership in Dec 2012 as a guarantee to make it believe they did not intend to return to the PPP and in case of any ‘violation’ the resignations could be used against them.
However, Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif gave the MPs a green signal in February to join the PML-N ranks, the source said.
The PPP had already filed a complaint with the ECP, seeking disqualification of these MPAs for defecting to the PML-N. The party claims these members had sworn by the Holy Quran that they would remain loyal, sincere and committed to the PPP (Parliamentarians) before assuming the office.
The B and F clauses of Article 62 say: “A person is qualified for the membership of the assembly if he/she is of a good character, righteous, honest and Amin.”
The PPP has prayed to ECP that these MPAs should be declared disqualified and barred from contesting any election.