ISLAMABAD: Prime Mi­­nister Imran Khan, during a meeting with a group of his spokespersons on Thursday, said the government would ask the National Assembly speaker to immediately accept resignations of opposition parliamentarians, whenever they came.

The prime minister said the government would hold negotiations with its ally Muttahida Qaumi Movement, which has objected to the cabinet’s approval of results of the 2017 National Census.

The premier said the public meeting in Lahore of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) was unsuccessful and termed it the “opposition’s Waterloo”. He claimed that due to lack of coherence among the 11 parties in the alliance, the PDM would not be able to mount a march on Islamabad.

When some spokespersons, including federal Minister for Water Resources Faisal Vawda, suggested that resignations of opposition lawmakers should be accepted, the prime minister agreed, a participant of the meeting told Dawn.

Removal of Abbasi’s name from ECL approved

He said Mr Khan was apprised that two opposition MNAs, Murtaza Javed Abbasi and Mohammad Sajjad Awan, had already submitted their resignations to the National Assembly secretariat.

The PDM, after a series of rallies in different cities, has warned the government that its legislators will resign as a last resort to topple the government led by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf.

However, Mr Khan has already claimed that he is not “afraid of resignations” and the government would hold by-elections for the seats vacated in the national and provincial assembly by the opposition legislators.

Many PML-N leaders have claimed that they have submitted their resignations to the party leadership and not to the NA speaker.

Media reports said that Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif and his son Hamza Shehbaz, who are in jail due to some corruption cases, have signed their resignation letters.

Another spokesperson said the prime minister was of the view that PDM’s campaign against the government had been “buried in Lahore” and that the opposition parties had no coherence between them.

Ex-PM’s plea

In an important development, the federal cabinet accepted an application of former prime minister and PML-N leader Shahid Khaqan Abbasi for removal of his name from the Exit Control List (ECL).

It has been learnt that Mr Abbasi had sought the removal of his name from the no-fly list so that he could travel abroad to inquire about the health of his ailing sister and brother-in-law.

PM rebukes Sindh govt

In a separate meeting on housing and construction, the prime minister reprimanded Sindh’s chief secretary for not giving approval to housing projects being executed under the ambitious Naya Pakistan Housing Project.

The meeting was apprised that in the last six months, the Punjab government had approved 664 housing projects while the Sindh government had given permission to only 19 projects and about 250 housing projects were awaiting approval.

The prime minister noted that Sindh government’s attitude towards the business community was “unfriendly”.

Meeting on PIA

In another meeting, the prime minister directed the authorities concerned to expedite the process of restructuring of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA).

He said that PIA would have to meet international standards to become a vibrant and profit-earning organisation. “In order to restore its lost prestigious status and become a profitable entity, the national flag carrier must improve its service,” he said.

Published in Dawn, December 25th, 2020