The Election Commission of Pakistan dismissed references against 20 dissident MNAs filed by PTI in the backdrop of the no-confidence motion against former Prime Minister Imran Khan. The bench headed by the Chief Election commissioner Sikender Sultan Raja held that Article 63-A of the constitution dealing with disqualification on the ground of defection was not applicable in the case of 20 MNAs as they did not vote on the no-confidence resolution. The decision is not only strictly in conformity with the relevant article of the constitution but is also logical and appeals to common sense. Perhaps for the benefit of the readers, it would be pertinent to quote the entire text of Article 63-A to remove the haze that still might be in the minds of some people. The article reads, “If a member of a Parliamentary Party composed of a single political party in a House; resigns from membership of his political party or joins another Parliamentary Party; or votes or abstains from voting in the House contrary to any direction issued by the Parliamentary Party to which he belongs, in relations to the election of the Prime Minister or the Chief Minister; ora vote of confidence or a vote of no-confidence; or a Money Bill or a Constitution (Amendment) Bill; he may be declared in writing by the Party Head to have defected from the political party, and the Head of the Parliamentary Party may forward a copy of the declaration to the Presiding Officer, and shall similarly forward a copy thereof to the member concerned: Provided that before making the declaration, the Party Head shall provide such member with an opportunity to show cause as to why such declaration may not be made against him. A member of a House shall be deemed to be a member of a Parliamentary Party if he has been elected as a candidate or nominee of a political party which constitutes the Parliamentary Party in the House or, having been elected otherwise than as a candidate or nominee of a political party, has become a member of such Parliamentary Party after such election by means of a declaration in writing. Upon receipt of the declaration under clause (1), the Presiding Officer of the House shall within two days refer the declaration to the Chief Election Commissioner who shall lay the declaration before the Election Commission for its decision thereon confirming the declaration or otherwise within thirty days of its receipt by the Chief Election Commissioner.Where the Election Commission confirms the declaration, the member referred to in clause (1) shall cease to be a member of the House and his seat shall become vacant. Any party aggrieved by the decision of the Election Commission may within thirty days, prefer an appeal to the Supreme Court which shall decide the matter within ninety days from the date of the filing of the appeal.” Laws are enacted to ensure the peaceful and orderly development of a society and the state from which they derive their sanctity; making it obligatory for all stakeholders to abide by them. As is abundantly clear from the above-quoted text, the case for declaring a member as having defected the party is justified only when a member actually commits the act of voting against the directions of the party on whose ticket he or she has been elected to the parliament. The foregoing facts prove beyond doubt that ECP is unnecessarily under fire. Constitution and laws are enacted to ensure the peaceful and orderly development of a society and the state from which they derive their sanctity making it obligatory for all stakeholders to abide by them in letter and spirit. Judiciary is the custodian of the constitution whose role is also supplemented by other constitutional entities empowered to ensure the implementation of constitutional provisions related to their area of responsibility. ECP is a constitutional entity vested with powers to ensure the holding of free and fair elections as well as to deal with issues related to the defection of members of the parliament. The decision given by ECP in the defection case of PTI MNAs is strictly in line with the spirit and content of Article 63-A. In case any party feels otherwise it can, as permitted by the Article prefer an appeal to the apex court within thirty days whose decision in the matter would be final. But as we see the PTI has not shown the grace to accept the decision ungrudgingly or without throwing unwarranted flak on the ECP. Senior Vice President of PTI Fawad Chaudhry reacting to the decision termed it ‘foolish’ and as per the expectations of the party. Emphasizing the alleged partisan role of ECP he announced that the PTI would not only file an appeal against the decision in the SC and also file references against the Chief Election Commissioner in the Supreme Judicial Council. Well as far as filing an appeal in the SC is concerned it is the legitimate right of the party but casting aspersion at the ECP and terming the decision as foolish cannot be condoned. It is indeed regrettable to note that PTI and its chairman have chosen to target the ECP notwithstanding the fact that the Chief Election Commissioner was a nominee of PTI itself. Probably PTI expected him to show a tilt towards it and endorse every illegal and unconstitutional action of the party. The independence, uprightness and commitment of the Chief Election Commissioner to go by the book did not go well with it. The trouble started when the ECP nullified by-elections in NA-75 because of a blatant attempt by PTI to rig them and ordered re-polling which resulted in the victory of the PM L(N) candidate. Instead of showing remorse over its misdeed, the party started targeting the ECP and the Chief Election Commissioner. It is really unbecoming of a party which claims itself to be the largest political force in the country. The party, particularly Imran Khan who is a leader in his own right and has a considerable following in the country, needs to recalibrate his political strategy. For an orderly and smooth running of the state affairs, it is imperative for the political parties which have a pivotal role in fostering public opinion, to show due respect for the judiciary and state institutions. They should not be maligned and denigrated for upholding the constitution. Political disputes and issues must be settled in conformity with recognized political and democratic norms within the ambit of the constitution and law. That is the only way forward. The writer is a former diplomat and freelance columnist.