A New Dilemma
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) finds itself in a tricky situation. Its leader has been removed from the post of Prime Minister through a vote of no-confidence, however, the party is unable to take whatever little relief the Constitution grants it under Article 63, which lays out a process for a Party Head to remove any defecting members. The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) appears to have put an end to any hopes of that, at least on the National Assembly level, as the body decided against de-seating 20 dissident PTI MNAs, observing that the references against the dissidents were not in line with Article 63-A of the Constitution.
The decision is technically in line with the Constitution. It was evident that certain PTI MNAs were no longer in consensus with the party; the alleged dissidents had stated in press conferences that they would vote “in accordance with their conscience”. However, while these statements certainly played a part in strengthening the then-opposition’s support for a vote of no-confidence, in the end, the dissident MNAs’ votes were not needed in Imran Khan’s removal, as the then-opposition managed to stitch together support from government-allied political parties. Thus, without the dissident MNAs concretely voting against their party, PTI’s case for their removal is made weak.
However, there are still some avenues left for PTI. It can appeal the decision of the ECP to the Supreme Court. It can try exploring references through Article 62, by trying to prove to the Court that horse-trading occurred. It also has references against alleged dissident PTI MPAs in the Punjab Assembly. Here too, PTI’s case is not open-and-shut, as the controversial MPAs are being contested for not voting for Pervaiz Elahi, who is not a PTI member. This is yet an undecided legal matter, and it will be interesting to see what legal precedents are set. However, it seems that PTI, despite having legitimate grievances with its dissident members, finds itself stuck in legal deadlocks.