National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervez Ashraf has approved the resignations of 43 more Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s lawmakers in the lower house, a private TV channel reported on Tuesday. The report said that Ashraf had approved the resignations on January 22 and sent a summary to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for the lawmakers’ denotification. The approval means that only dissident PTI lawmakers remain in the National Assembly now. Interestingly, the development comes a day after the party announced that it is withdrawing the resignations of 45 PTI MNAs and also approached the ECP in this regard. According to sources, the resignations of Muhammad Nawaz Allai and Sardar Talib Hassan Nakai were not accepted as they had submitted leave applications. Reacting to the development, senior PTI leader Fawad Chauhdry said the main reason to return to the National Assembly was to remove Raja Riaz as the opposition leader otherwise the legislature had “no importance”. “Right now, Shehbaz Sharif has lost the support of 172 members and is relying on lotas (turncoats) to save his government,” tweeted Fawad. Some 40% of NA seats are now vacant as a result of the speaker’s move to save Raja Riaz, he added. “Country is close to pols now. The only solution to this problem is general elections,” said Fawad. The development comes a day after 45 PTI MNAs sent their handwritten withdrawals to the speaker via email and demanded the nomination of a new opposition leader from among them. The PTI members also met Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja and informed him about their decision to return to the National Assembly after nine months. A total of 131 MNAs had submitted resignations minutes before the election of Shehbaz Sharif as the prime minister in April. Subsequently, NA speaker Ashraf accepted only 11 of the resignations, stating that the remaining lawmakers would be summoned individually for verification. After stalling the process for eight months, Ashraf accepted the resignations of 34 PTI MNAs on Jan 17 and 35 MNAs on Jan 20, including Awami Muslim League chief Sheikh Rashid, as the party hinted it would “test” Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif with a confidence vote.