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ECP seeks replies from dissident PTI MNAs on reference seeking disqualification

Noor Alam’s lawyer argues his client did not violate Article 63-A as he did not vote on no-trust motion against Imran Khan

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has directed 20 dissident Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) members of the National Assembly (MNAs) on Thursday to submit their replies in writing regarding references that seek their disqualification under Article 63-A of the constitution before adjourning the hearing till May 6.

The ECP also reserved its verdict regarding an objection raised by dissident PTI lawmaker Noor Alam’s counsel. Alam contested that the commission was not able to hear the references at the time because it was incomplete as two of its members had retired.

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During the hearing, Alam’s counsel argued that his client had not violated Article 63-A because he had not voted on the no-confidence motion against former prime minister Imran Khan.

Alam was among several PTI lawmakers who had voiced support for a no-confidence motion against Imran Khan that led to the PTI chief’s ouster. He was also discovered to be residing at Sindh House, along with other dissident lawmakers, ahead of the no-confidence vote. The PTI alleged that the lawmakers had switched their loyalties in exchange for money.

These dissident lawmakers, however, had not voted on the no-trust motion against Khan. The former opposition, and current ruling coalition, managed to bag 174 votes — two more than the required 172 — after successfully acquiring the support of PTI’s allied parties, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan and the Balochistan Awami Party.

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Meanwhile, Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja said that the commission will conclude the case on PTI’s dissident MNAs within 30 days.

Raja said that the ECP would summon every dissident member and hear their side of the story. For his part, PTI’s lawyer said the ECP is bound to decide the case within 30 days once it receives the declaration against MNAs. He also raised objections over Noor Alam’s counsel’s reservations and said that his demands were not in line with the constitution.

The CEC called on the National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf to submit his response in this regard.

“The commission holds a fair hearing. The speaker can take a copy of the reference and submit his response on May 6. We will wrap up the case in 30 days,” he said.

The CEC then postponed the hearing till May 6.

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