ISLAMABAD - The Election Commission of Pakistan on Tuesday rejected the disqualification reference filed by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan against Ayesha Gulalai for defying the party orders.

As a result of the ECP short dissenting order by a 3-2 majority of the five-member bench headed by the chief election commissioner, which heard the reference, Gulalai will remain a member of the National Assembly.

The members of ECP from Balochistan and Punjab gave a dissenting opinion whereas the CEC and the members of Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa maintained that there was no violation of party rules by Ayesha Gulalai.

In his reference, Imran Khan stated Gulalai, violating the party laws, had abstained from voting for PTI’s candidate, Sheikh Rasheed, for the office of prime minister after the ouster of ex-PM Nawaz Sharif, so the MNA should be de-seated. During the last hearing, the five-member bench reserved judgment in the case.

Imran Khan’s lawyer Sikander Mohmand had reiterated before the commission that Gulalai had announced to leave the party and then backtracked on her statement.

The lawyer had argued that Gulalai’s announcement was enough for her to leave the party and she didn’t need to tender a written resignation, on which the ECP had enquired regarding the adequate procedure for leaving the party. Imran Khan’s counsel had said there was no set method for resignation, but the party chief could expel a member.

Gulalai’s lawyer Barrister Masroor had refuted PTI’s accusations and had said expressing the desire to leave the party and actually tendering resignation were different things.

During an earlier hearing, the PTI’s lawyer had said Gulalai had violated the party laws by abstaining from the vote although she had attended the meeting at which the party had decided to field Sh Rasheed as its candidate for the post of PM, and Imran Khan had notified all the party members to support the Awami Muslim League chief.

Gulalai, however, claimed she had not participated in the vote due to illness, but the PTI’s lawyer presented a record of television talk shows on which she had appeared at the time of the session to speak about her decision to leave the PTI.

Gulalai, while speaking to the media outside the ECP, accused Imran of having ties with the Taliban. “Imran has been more concerned about staging protests than attending to issues like dengue,” the MNA said. “People of NA-4 have boycotted Khan Sahib because he does not respect women,” Gulalai said, questioning how Imran could fight status quo by allowing status quo in his own party.

Accusing Khan of spreading anarchy and chaos, she said: “you keep telling everyone to protest everything and have started a culture of levelling allegations and counter-allegations. Is this the kind of Pakistan you are building?”

The MNA went on to say Imran Khan is happy as long as he is given a free hand by an institution, but if an institution tells him to appear before it, then he threatens to bring people on streets.

“This anarchist behaviour is not acceptable to respectable individuals,” she said. “If you come on the roads this time and bring people with you in order to close institutions, Pakistan’s people will also come out and I will join them. We will hold a rally in favour of the institutions,” she added. “During the four years the government could not pay attention to various issues because Niazi kept spreading anarchy. She said addressing Imran: “You say the economy has been performing poorly. Every other day, you threaten to remove one person or other.”

Meanwhile, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leader Fawad Chaudhry said they will challenge the Election Commission of Pakistan’s decision in favour of the party member and MNA Ayesha Gulalai.

Speaking to media persons, the PTI leader said the party will take the issue to its logical end. “We will not let Ayesha Gulalai sit in the assembly,” said Chaudhry, adding she spoke of leaving the party in front of the media. “We will take the matter to the end, her actions are damaging the struggle of other women,” he said.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Central Secretary Information Shafqat Mehmood in a statement said that Election Commission’s verdict on the reference against Ayesha Gulalai is a severe blow to Article 63-A of the constitution and raised questions over its neutrality and constitutional role.

Shafqat Mehmood said ECP’s decision is tantamount to destabilising parliamentary democracy in Pakistan. Article 63-A of the constitution, Shafqat Mehmood maintained, doesn’t permit a member of parliament to cling to the party seat after violating its policy. This article of the constitution, he added, decrees to de-notify the member who breaches the party policy in the election of PM in the house.

Lashing out at Ayesha Gulalai, Shafqat Mehmood stated she announced more than once to leave the party and media persons are witnesses to that. Moreover, she also transgressed the party policy during the election of PM in the lower house, he said.

He said the Election Commission’s credence has deteriorated after this unconstitutional and unpopular decision and it has increased the need for serious consideration on the role and priorities of ECP.

Shafqat Mehmood said PTI is considering and reviewing all aspects of the decision and will decide future course of action shortly.

INP adds from KARACHI: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan, reacting to the verdict, said the Election Commission of Pakistan had violated the Constitution by rejecting his reference seeking Ayesha Gulalai’s de-seating from the National Assembly.

Speaking to media persons, he said the ECP verdict was in violation of the Constitution because Ayesha Gulalai herself had announced to quit the party and recording of her statement was also available.

Imran Khan said Gulalai had violated the party discipline by not casting vote in favour of Sh Rasheed for the slot of prime minister.