–Imran Khan calls ECP verdict ‘unconstitutional move’
–Gulalai says PTI chief always ‘spreads anarchy’
ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Tuesday dismissed the disqualification reference filed by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan against PTI MNA Ayesha Gulalai for defying party orders.
In his reference, Khan claimed that Gulalai had abstained from voting for the PTI’s chosen candidate, Sheikh Rasheed, for the office of prime minister after the ouster of ex-PM Nawaz Sharif on July 28, violating the party laws, therefore, the MNA should be de-seated.
During Tuesday’s hearing, the ECP in its short order announced the decision in favour of Gulalai by a 3-2 majority of the five-member bench headed by the chief election commissioner hearing the reference.
The members of Balochistan and Punjab dissented with the majority opinion, whereas the CEC, and the members of Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa maintained that there was no violation of party rules on Gulalai’s part.
Subsequently, Gulalai will remain a member of the National Assembly.
During the last hearing, the five-member bench reserved judgment in the case.
Imran Khan’s lawyer Sikander Mohmand had reiterated before the commission that Gulalai had announced to leave the party and then backtracked from her statement.
The lawyer had argued that Gulalai’s announcement was enough for her to leave the party and she didn’t need to present a written resignation, to which the ECP had enquired regarding the adequate party procedure for leaving. In response, Khan’s counsel had said that there was no fixed method for resigning, however, the party chief can expel a member.
Gulalai’s lawyer Barrister Masroor had rejected PTI’s accusations and had said that expressing the desire to leave the party and actually resigning were not the same thing.
During an earlier hearing, the PTI’s lawyer had said that Gulalai had violated party laws by abstaining from the vote although she was present at a meeting in which the party had decided to field Rasheed as its candidate for the post of PM, and Khan had notified all party members to support the Awami Muslim League chief.
Gulalai, however, claimed that she had not participated in the vote due to an illness, but the PTI’s lawyer presented a record of television talk shows on which she had appeared at the time of the session to speak about her decision to leave the PTI.
Talking to reporters in Karachi on Tuesday, Imran Khan said that the ECP’s decision to reject his reference against Gulalai was an unconstitutional move.
“We are looking into this matter. Ayesha Gulalai had announced herself that she was leaving the party and violated rules,” the PTI chief said.
“We hope that the ECP will decide matters impartially and not just against the PTI,” he added.
GULALAI ACCUSES IMRAN OF HAVING LINKS WITH TALIBAN:
Gulalai, while speaking to the media outside the ECP, accused Imran of having ties with the Taliban.
“Imran has been more concerned about staging protests than catering to issues like dengue,” the MNA said.
“People of NA-4 have boycotted Khan sahab because he does not respect women,” Gulalai said questioning how could Imran fight status quo by allowing status quo in his own party.
Accusing Khan of “always spreading anarchy and chaos”, she said that “you (Imran Khan) keep telling everyone to protest everything and have started a culture of levelling allegations and counter-allegations and insults. This is the kind of Pakistan you are building”.
The MNA went on to say that Khan is happy as long as he is given a free hand by an institution but if an institution tells him to appear before it, then he threatens to bring people out on streets.
“This anarchist behaviour is not acceptable to respectable individuals,” she said. “If you come out onto the streets this time and bring people with you in order to close institutions, then Pakistan’s people will also come out onto the streets and I will join them. We will hold a rally for respecting institutions.”
“In four years [since the last election] … the government could not pay attention [to various issues] because Niazi kept spreading anarchy. And then you [Khan] say that the economy has been performing poorly,” she said.
“Every other day, you threaten to remove this person or that,” she added.
PTI TO CHALLENGE ECP DECISION:
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leader Fawad Chaudhry said on Tuesday that the party will challenge the Election Commission of Pakistan’s decision against de-seating estranged party member and MNA Ayesha Gulalai.
Speaking to media, the PTI leader said that the party will take the issue to its logical end.
“We will not let Ayesha Gulalai sit in the assembly,” said Chaudhry, adding that Gulalai spoke of leaving the party in front of the media.
“We will follow the matter to the end, her actions damage the struggle of other women,” he said.
Earlier, PTI leader Shafqat Mahmood also spoke to media and said that the ECP decision to dismiss the reference against MNA Ayesha Gulalai ended constitutional discipline.
Mahmood said that to let Gulalai remain an MNA from the party is a decision against the spirit of the party constitution.
He said that whatever Gulalai said in her statements was an indicator of leaving the party.
Khan’s reference against Gulalai followed a flurry of scathing allegations levelled against the PTI chief and other top party leaders by the lawmaker on August 1, when she announced her exit from the party.
Gulalai made the announcement moments before the election of a new prime minister, citing “ill-treatment” of women in the party as the reason behind her decision. She had claimed that she had communicated her grievances to the party leadership but no action had been taken.
The PTI had filed a reference against the MNA with National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq to de-seat her for violating party discipline.
After analysing the reference, Speaker of the National Assembly Ayaz Sadiq had forwarded it to ECP for further action.
Prior to her resignation, Gulalai, who is a former PPP member, had been a staunch and vocal supporter of the PTI and Imran Khan, often featuring in prime time talk shows to defend party policies.