PTI may be unable to delay Punjab CM election

Published April 8, 2022
This combo photo shows Punjab Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Parvez Elahi (left) and Leader of the Opposition Hamza Shehbaz. — DawnNewsTV
This combo photo shows Punjab Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Parvez Elahi (left) and Leader of the Opposition Hamza Shehbaz. — DawnNewsTV

LAHORE: The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) coalition government in Punjab may now find it difficult to further delay the election of the chief minister after the Supreme Court nullified the National Assembly deputy speaker’s ruling on the no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Meanwhile, the same day the opposition pa­­­rties also managed to submit a no-trust motion against Punjab Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Parvez Elahi, further squeezing space for the provincial government to play its cards.

After the apex court’s decision, the ruling coalition in Punjab has once again warned its MPAs against voting for the opposition’s nominee for the CM slot, Hamza Shehbaz, or they would be de-seated. Hamza is up against the PTI-PML-Q coalition’s candidate, Chaudhry Parvez Elahi.

“We also urge the apex court to take note of ‘open buying’ of the PTI lawmakers by the PML-N. We hope for a strong decision on the presidential reference on Article 63-A of the Constitution,” said Fayyazul Hasan Chohan, the newly appointed spokesperson for the PA speaker.

PML-N submits no-confidence motion against Speaker Elahi

In the National Assembly, the joint opposition may not need the dissident PTI MNAs to oust PM Khan as it has the required numbers, including the support of the former government’s allies. But in the Punjab Assembly, the opposition needs the backing of a good number of PTI dissenters to install its chief minister.

Lahore High Court senior lawyer Khurram Chughtai told Dawn on Thursday that the situation regarding the Punjab CM’s election would be dicey, as the PML-N-led opposition depended on the defecting PTI lawmakers to complete its strength. “The dissident PTI MPAs may not turn up for voting to avoid being de-seated. Also, to prepone the CM’s election, the PML-N will have to seek high court’s intervention,” he said.

Meanwhile, the PML-N plans to move the high court today to seek early election of the chief minister. “We may file a petition in the LHC on Friday (today) in light of the Supreme Court’s decision against the National Assembly deputy speaker’s ruling on the no-confidence motion against PM Khan,” a party leader told Dawn.

He said after the apex court’s verdict, the opposition felt emboldened that it would get similar relief in Punjab. “We are quite positive that the election to elect the leader of the House in Punjab is now just days away and the process will be hurdle-free,” he said optimistically, adding that MPAs belonging to the Tareen, Aleem and Khokhar groups of the PTI had already pledged to sacrifice their seats for ensuring the PML-N won the chief executive’s post.

A day earlier, the PML-N-led opposition had been barred from entering the Punjab Assembly, as it was sealed after Speaker Parvez Elahi decla­red Deputy Speaker Dost Muhammad Mazari’s ‘order’ to summon the session ‘illegal’. According to the assembly secretariat, the session will be convened on April 16 as per an earlier notification of the assembly signed by the deputy speaker.

Mr Elahi had used his authority as the spe­aker and ordered withdrawal of powers delegated to Mr Mazari with immediate effect.

Deputy Speaker Mazari’s power to preside over a session was also snatched following the submission of a no-confidence motion against him by his own fellow lawmakers in the PTI-PML-Q coalition. His sudden change of heart was termed the ‘handiwork’ of the PML-N leadership that allegedly wooed him through a ‘good offer’.

No-confidence resolution

On Thursday, PML-N lawmakers Sami­ullah Khan, Khalil Tahir Sandhu, Ashraf Rasool, Salman Rafique, Mirza Javed and Mian Abdur Rauf reached the Punjab Assembly and submitted the no-trust motion against the speaker to the Special Secretary Amer Habib.

However, a coalition government leader told Dawn that there would be no change in the schedule (April 16) for the CM election . “After the Supreme Court’s verdict, we will chalk out our strategy to defeat Hamza, who is heavily dependent on our lotas (turncoats),” he commented.

The PA session was postponed to April 16 after its assembly hall was vandalised allegedly by opposition MPAs led by PML-N’s Rana Mashhood.

According to the assembly office, opposition lawmakers had damaged the furniture, portraits and security instruments during a protest in the April 3 session. A PA committee is probing the matter and will fix the responsibility.

Published in Dawn, April 8th, 2022

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