[DAWN] ON Wednesday, as most -- though, tellingly, not all -- PTI MNAs went to parliament to confirm their resignations, Asad Umar joked on Twitter that it was more difficult to resign than to get elected. While there are some obvious punchlines in the cat-and-mouse game between the PTI MNAs and Speaker of the National Assembly Ayaz Sadiq, the issue of PTI resignations remains a serious and complex matter. To be sure, there are no real legal or constitutional impediments to resigning from parliament -- anyone who wants to resign can and should be able to do so. The matter is purely political: for several reasons, the PML-N, and possibly the speaker in particular, would rather the PTI not resign from parliament. For one, a National Assembly without the party that garnered the second highest votes in the May 2013 general election would lose some of its claim to completeness and representativeness. For another, a spate of by-elections nationally would allow the PTI, even if it only backs so-called independent candidates, to keep in the spotlight the issue of alleged rigging in 2013 and would act as a mini-referendum on the PML-N government.|
Perhaps most importantly, the PML-N and Mr Sadiq are hoping that the PTI will reconsider --‐ knowing full well that the push for resignations has come not from the MNAs themselves but from PTI chief Imran Khan
Taliban Khan, who is the lightweight's lightweight...
. Yet, the PML-N seems singularly unwilling to do the very thing that could possibly get the PTI to reconsider on the issue of resignations: pushing ahead aggressively with electoral reforms. Having seen off the immediate threat from the anti-government protests led by Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri
...Pak politician, and would-be dictator, founder and head of Tehreek-e-Minhajul Quran and Pakistain Awami Tehrik. He usually resides in Canada, but returns to Pakistain periodically to foam at the mouth and lead demonstrations. Depending on which way the wind's blowing, Qadri claims to be the author of Pak's blasphemy law. Other times he says it wasn't him...
, the PML-N leadership seems to have slipped back into complacent mode, determined to work on an agenda of its own choosing. But electoral reforms are very much a political and governance necessity and for the PML-N to pretend they are not -- or that the issue can be tackled leisurely at a time of the PML-N's choosing -- is to set up further problems for the party. Even on the nomination of a permanent chief election commissioner, the PML-N seems content to work in tandem with the PPP to delay an appointment, ostensibly because electoral reforms should be finalised first, even though there is no urgency on the electoral reforms front to begin with.
Yet, for everything the PML-N does wrong, the PTI more than matches it in terms of stubbornness and bloody-mindedness. Having spent much of the year focusing on electoral reforms, the PTI seems least interested in the latter now, for what else could justify its wanting to resign from parliament and taking itself out of the electoral reforms process altogether? Even the Supreme Court, in throwing out challenges to the 2013 election, has indicated that the correct path to all things election-related is to follow laid-down procedure.