WEBDESK: Protesting the Rangers Operation in Sindh, the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) members of provincial and federal legislatures tendered resignations en masse from the elected houses in early August.
Several weeks on, their resignations stand unaccepted and the Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani has finally given an interim ruling on the issue. The chairman in his detailed reasoning on the subject stated: “It seems resignations have been tendered in protest and in furtherance of a political agenda”.
Addressing the Upper House on Monday, he also claimed that “there is reasonable material available on the record that gives me a perception that the resignations of some may not be voluntary or genuine and the true intention is not to vacate the seat”. But then he takes a somersault stopping short of giving his final ruling insisting it is he who is the final authority in this case and would give his ruling in due course of time, which can be anything.
The framers of our Constitution, however, did walk such a muddled labyrinth; absolutely unburdened by ‘perceptions’ and ‘intentions’. The relevant Article 64 mandates that a member of parliament “may, by writing under his hand addressed to the Speaker or, as the case may be, the Chairman resign his seat, and thereupon his seat shall become vacant”. Or, “A house may declare the seat of a member vacant if, without leave of the House, he remains absent for forty consecutive days of its sittings”.
Does it mean that the members, who handed over their resignations to the Speakers of National and Sindh assemblies and Chairman of Sensate under full glare of our ubiquitous electronic media, were bluffing the public into believing that they mean business? They were not; at least that is what they conveyed and remain firm in that position rejecting the government mediator’s moves resulting in the inordinate delay in acceptance of their resignations.
Of course, the Chairman Senate, Raza Rabbani, has the right to give his ruling on the issue. Interpretation of the Constitution falls in the exclusive domain of the higher judiciary. What does he mean by updating superior courts on his interim ruling? Shall he defy the Supreme Court decision on the petition over the acceptance of MQM resignations if it happens to be contradictory to his worldview?
The then Speaker of National Assembly, Ayaz Sadiq, too, had employed dilatory tactics in case of en masse resignations of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf members, giving credence to the impression that the elected chairs have acted more as saviours of the status quo than as constitutional regulators of the elected houses.
Perceivably, the positions taken by them on the issue of resignations run counter to the popular axiom that in democratic ambience elected assemblies are antithetical to the street power and pressure lobbies. Instead of taking to the streets and employing pressure the people elect members to represent them in the elected house, hoping even when in opposition they would raise voice in support of their voters.
Why didn’t the members of MQM, and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf previously, realise that by opting to sit outside these houses instead of remaining inside their continued absence from the assemblies is nothing but betrayal of their voters’ trust? How come you get paid for the work you didn’t do?