By Aamir Latif
KARACHI, Pakistan (AA) – The speaker of Pakistan's lower house accepted the resignations of another 43 lawmakers from the key opposition party of former Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday, officials and local media reported.
The move came just days after Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf accepted the resignations of 69 Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) lawmakers from the National Assembly in two stages last week.
Some 124 PTI lawmakers submitted resignations in April last year following the successful no-trust vote that ousted their leader Imran Khan as prime minister.
The speaker, nonetheless, did not accept the resignations until Khan, earlier this month, hinted at returning to the parliament.
On Monday, PTI lawmakers protested outside parliament and later met with the country's chief election commissioner in the capital Islamabad, pleading that they had withdrawn their resignations.
The latest development means the PTI has no member in the 342-seat National Assembly, with the exception of Khan and 22 dissidents who refused to resign.
Khan was elected to the National Assembly from six of the seven constituencies in which he ran in by-elections last October.
He has not yet taken the oath of office as a parliamentarian.
The former prime minister, who has staged a series of anti-government rallies since his ouster, has called for early elections, which are currently scheduled for late this year.
In an attempt to further push for his demand, he had the provincial assemblies of northeastern Punjab and northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where the PTI and its coalition partner ruled, dissolved earlier this month.
The coalition government led by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has rejected his demand and stated that the elections will take place as scheduled.