LAHORE: The PML-N leadership gave its 154 members of the Punjab Assembly a deadline of Wednesday (tomorrow) to send their resignations from the provincial house, reflecting the severity and urgency of the party with respect to the agitation plan of the opposition aimed at ousting the administration.
The PML-N legislators were led by opposition leader Hamza Shehbaz of the Punjab Assembly at the party’s parliamentary meeting here on Monday.
After Speaker Chaudhry Parvez Elahi released his production order, Mr Hamza, son of PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif, is currently attending the assembly’s session.
For over one and a half years, Hamza has been in Kot Lakhpat jail in the money laundering and revenue beyond means cases launched by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB). Rs25bn money laundering allegations against him are still being prosecuted by the Federal Investigation Service (FIA).
The Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), the opposition coalition established last September to overthrow Imran Khan’s government, gave its representatives a deadline of Dec 31 to send the resignations of their legislatures (to its leadership).
“Since so far not many resignations from the PML-N provincial legislators have been submitted to the leadership, Hamza, on the direction of the top leadership, directed the MPAs to show haste by Wednesday (tomorrow) in handing over their resignations to the leadership,” a party insider told Dawn.
He said the leadership of the PML-N did not want to face shame and assured that all its legislators send their resignations before the deadline for the PDM. No such deadline was issued by the party to its representatives in the National Assembly.
In Punjab, the PML-N has 159 MPAs, but after it expelled its five legislators last October for meeting with Chief Minister Usman Buzdar in breach of party discipline, it has not asked them to resign. Nishat Ahmed Daha and Faisal Niazi of Khanewal, Mian Jalil Ahmed Sharaqpuri of Sheikhupura, Muhammad Ghiasuddin of Narowal and Ashraf Ansari of Gujranwala are those who have been expelled from the party.
Interestingly, on Monday, one of them, Mian Jalil Ahmed Sharaqpuri, submitted a ‘conditional’ resignation to Mr Elahi, asking him to consider it if his area’s other lawmakers, MNA Rana Tanvir Hussain and MPAs Pir Ashraf Rasool and Abdur Rauf, submitted their resignations by Dec 31. The Quaid Nawaz Sharif party had opposed Mr. Sharaqpuri for speaking against the national institutions.
PML-N legislator Samiullah Khan told Dawn that Hamza Shehbaz had instructed the MPAs to present their resignations by Wednesday so that they could be received by the leadership well before the PDM deadline (Dec 31).
When asked whether the leadership of the PML-N displayed an urgency in this matter surrounding such defections, Mr. Khan said: This is not the case. Many of the legislators will present their resignations. We did not request the resignations of the five MPAs expelled by the party.
He said Mr. Hamza would also withdraw on Tuesday from the house (today). The PDM sent Prime Minister Imran Khan a strong deadline to step down by January 31, with the warning that a march on Islamabad would otherwise result in the ouster of the PTI administration.
The PML-N claims that the Senate elections due next March will not be held if resignations en masse are tendered by the opposition.
Several PTI leaders have stated that the opposition would not withdraw as it uses this as a ‘pressure tactic’ from the assemblies.