Is en masse resignation still an option for Opp?


ISLAMABAD: The threat of en masse resignation from the parliament, once considered as a lethal weapon in the hands of the opposition, has almost lost its efficacy as it has never proven to be effective in the past.

Previously, the opposition parties used this tactic to pressurise the government to submit to their demands but not once did it achieve the desired results as collective resignation from the parliament could never create a political or constitutional crisis. Disputes were always settled amicably between the government and opposition after the process was prolonged by the government through verification of collective resignations by the speaker.

This idea was first introduced by Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) in the past when its members of National Assembly (NA), Senate and Sindh Assembly had submitted collective resignations and presented 19 demands for the reversal of their decision. The then government had formed a Grievances Redressal Committee (GDC) to cool down the political temperature and finally the lawmakers took their resignations back.

Likewise, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) had submitted collective resignations during the last tenure of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N). In a bid to prolong the process, the then NA speaker, Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, had asked all the lawmakers of PTI to meet him individually for the verification of their resignations.

Except for Makhdoom Javed Hashmi, who was member of PTI at that time, not even a single resignation was accepted by the speaker. Hashmi, on the floor of the House, had forced the speaker to accept his resignation. Moreover, when this strategy failed to achieve any results, the remaining PTI lawmakers had rejoined the parliament after almost three months.

Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F), which is currently leading the Azadi March in the federal capital, has also been hinting at this strategy to put pressure on the incumbent government. The protesters expect that the government would accept their demands because it would be an arduous task to conduct by-polls in dozens of constituencies at the same time.

However, JUI-F has so far failed to convince Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and PML-N, two of the largest political parties on the opposition benches, on this option but discussion is still underway. The lawmakers of JUI-F, in a gesture to show unity and loyalty to party chief, have already submitted their resignations to Fazl.

Apparently, opposition parties have now realized that quitting the parliament is not a right decision at the moment. However, these parties are preparing to give a tough time to the government in political and legislative matters both inside and outside the parliament. Though Fazl is persistent on getting Prime Minister Imran Khan’s resignation, other opposition leaders have expressed their disinterest in joining JUI-F’s sit-in.

In light of the current developments and the historical facts, the opposition parties are not likely to tender their resignations as proposed by the JUI-F.  Political analysts believe that while the opposition would discourage Fazl from exercising this option, they would ask him to use it as a mere threat.

However, some recent developments would make one wonder whether the threat is working. The likely departure of former premier Nawaz Sharif on medical grounds implies behind-the-scenes political maneuvering and if this is true, former president Asif Ali Zardari might also benefit from the same model.