ISLAMABAD- National Assembly Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq on Monday said he had no objection if Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf parliamentarians wanted to come together for verification of their resignations, quickly adding he would have to follow the set procedure to check the authenticity of their resignations.

Talking to media persons after PTI Chairman Imran Khan and other parliamentarians he had called in his chamber for verification of their resignations failed to turn up, the National Assembly speaker in a lighter vein said that he had no objection if the PTI MPs wanted to come hands in hands for verification of their resignations. He, however, said he would have to affirm the resignations were genuine and willingly tendered by the members without any pressure from any quarter for which there was a set procedure to call the members one by one in his chamber to ascertain it.

On the other hand, after the core committee meeting of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, MNA Shafqat Mahmood once again reiterated the party’s stand to go en masse to the National Assembly speaker’s chamber for verification of their resignations.

He said PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi would soon meet the National Assembly speaker to finalise the date when the PTI MPs would go together to his chamber to verify their resignations.

He further said they were not showing up in the chamber of the NA speaker in groups as summoned by Speaker because it was the party’s decision that they would appear before the speaker collectively.

It was the reason behind their defiance of the speaker’s direction and their party’s MPs called by the speaker on Tuesday and Wednesday would also not appear in his chamber.

PTI Chairman Imran Khan, Murad Saeed, Javed Akbar and Ghulam Sarwar were called on Monday, but they did not appear before him for verification of their resignations.

The speaker summoned Amjad Ali Khan, Shafqat Mahmood and Rai Hassan Nawaz for Tuesday (today) while the last batch of PTI MPs, Aysha Gulayi, Sajida, Nafeesa Inayatullah Khattak and Lal Chand were called for October 15 with which the initial exercise on part of the National Assembly speaker would be completed and then he could adopt other means to verify the PTI MPs’ resignations as per the rules of procedure and conduct of the National Assembly business.

The sources aware of the developments taking place in this regard told The Nation that in the light of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of National Assembly 2007 and the Supreme Court verdict in a case dated 1976, National Assembly speaker is empowered to adopt other means to verify the resignation tendered by any member.

The sources said the National Assembly speaker could contact the members on telephone to verify their resignations and besides approaching the Ministry of Law to seek advice on the matter.

They said the tacit willingness shown by National Assembly Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq to allow the PTI MPs to come together for verification of their resignations did not mean that they would appear before him collectively, but again the members would have to appear one by one to validate the genuineness of their resignations.

Sources in PTI, giving rationale behind their insistence for en masse verification of their resignations, said by calling the MPs in groups the speaker wanted to break the dates of acceptance of their resignations so that by-polls on these seats could be held on different dates while the PTI leadership wanted by-elections on all the vacated seats the same day.

Constitutional experts said that for getting the verification of their resignations the same day the PTI members needed to be summoned by the National Assembly speaker the same day for which a fresh date would have to be given by his office.

PTI MNA Shafqat Mahmood, in a media chat, said Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi would be meeting the speaker in a next few days to finalise the date on which all the PTI MPs would appear en masse before him to verify their resignations.

Sources in the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz said the government might keep the matter of acceptance of PTI MPs’ resignations in limbo for some more days to give the Political Jirga to make a final attempt to resolve the standoff between the government and protesting PTI and PAT leadership through negotiations.

The acceptance of PTI MPs’ resignations would close the doors of negotiations between the government and the protesting parties once for all.

Some parliamentarians, including Maulana Fazlur Rehman and Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao, criticised the undue laxity shown by Ayaz Sadiq in accepting the resignations and said if they were reluctant to appear before him in person to verify their resignations, the speaker could use other sources to confirm the genuineness of these resignations.

Commenting on the situation, veteran parliamentarian and constitutional expert SM Zafar said the Supreme Court of Paksitan’s ruling given in a case in 1976 fully empowered the National Assembly speaker that in the given situation when the PTI MPs were not appearing before him in person to verify their resignations, he could use other sources to confirm the validity and genuineness of these resignations.

He further said that as he had appeared before the Supreme Court in that case in 1976, he knew well the authority of the speaker regarding the verification of resignation of an MP through other sources in case he refused to turn up in person to conform his resignation.

To a question, Zafar further said speaker could not delay the matter of acceptance of resignation of any member for longer period because keeping the matter in limbo for long would deprive the voters of that constituency of representation in the Parliament, which was against the spirit of the Constitution.

Constitutional experts, seeing weight in the contention of the PTI leadership, suspected that the idea behind calling their MPs for verification of their resignations in groups was to accept their resignations on different dates so that by-polls on these vacated seats could be held on different dates.

The PTI leadership was also accusing the government of using various tactics, including offering the MPs various incentives to backtrack them from their resignations and the reason to call them in groups was also aimed at turn them away from collective decision of stepping down from their membership of the lower house of the Parliament.