Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, while referring to Prime Minister Imran Khan, said on Friday that there was “no room” for minus one in the PTI.
Addressing a press conference in Islamabad, he said there was a rumour going on that “everything is okay but Imran Khan. Everything can be saved if we go towards minus one.”
The minister declared emphatically that there is “no room for minus one” in the PTI, adding that if anyone had any misunderstanding, they should remove it.
He advised dissident MNAs, including those staying at Sindh House in Islamabad, to rethink their decision. Calling them “sensible” people, Qureshi said the MNAs were aware of the law and the Constitution, as well as, the PTI’s mandate.
“If they were elected on the bat (PTI’s election symbol) there were hopes attached to them. There are disagreements in every party but these are resolved. You cannot sit in the lap of opponents.”
A day earlier, several MNAs from the ruling PTI, who had been ‘in hiding’ at the Sindh House, revealed themselves — proving that opposition claims of having won over members of the ruling coalition were indeed true.
The revelation came a day after Prime Minister Imran Khan and some cabinet ministers accused the opposition of indulging in horse-trading ahead of the crucial vote on the no-confidence resolution, disclosing that Sindh House in Islamabad had become a centre for buying and purchasing members.
Raja Riaz, who belongs to the Jahangir Tareen group, reportedly claimed that there were 24 PTI members staying at Sindh House, while Noor Alam Khan put the number of dissidents over 24.
Most of these individuals, who joined the PTI before the 2018 elections, claimed that they were staying at the facility of their own will and they decided to shift here after observing some suspicious activities and receiving threats while lodging at Parliament Lodges.
All of them refuted allegations that they had been offered money to make the opposition’s no-trust move a success. The members, however, remained diplomatic when asked if they had decided to vote in support of the opposition’s no-trust resolution against the prime minister, stating that they would vote according to their “conscience”.
During his presser today, the foreign minister told the lawmakers that the PTI was ready to listen to their “valid concerns”, saying they would make a big political mistake if they went against party decisions.
He appealed to them to reconsider their decision and to weigh their choices with a “cool mind” and make a decision that was not against their party.
Qureshi added that the PTI’s political committee had decided in accordance with the law, Constitution and ethics that if the MNAs — despite the appeal — chose to become dissidents, they would be issued show-cause notices and a presidential reference would be moved against them.
The minister’s comments come hours after Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said the government would file a reference in the Supreme Court, asking it to interpret Article 63 (A) of the Constitution, which is related to disqualification of parliamentarians on grounds of defection.
“The Supreme Court will be asked about the legal status of the vote of party members when they are clearly involved in horse-trading and change their loyalties in exchange for money,” he said.
Chaudhry said the Supreme Court would also be asked for advice on whether those who change their party loyalties for financial reasons would be disqualified for life or allowed to contest elections again.
According to Article 63 (A) of the Constitution, a parliamentarian can be disqualified on grounds of defection if he “votes or abstains from voting in the House contrary to any direction issued by the parliamentary party to which he belongs, 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”.
The article says that the party head has to declare in writing that the MNA concerned has defected but before making the declaration, the party head will “provide such member with an opportunity to show cause as to why such declaration may not be made against him”.