Punjab Governor Omer Sarfraz Cheema on Sunday said the prime minister did not have the authority to dismiss him and only the president could do so.
The recently appointed governor's remarks came amid speculation that he was being removed from the position by the federal government. "The prime minister does not have this kind of authority [to remove the governor]," Cheema said in a press conference in Lahore.
"He [should send] a summary to the president because I am holding this office with the pleasure of the president of Pakistan. Until the president notifies [the order to remove me], I am holding this office."
Following Cheema's press conference, PML-N leader Marriyum Aurangzeb told Dawn.com that the government was sending a summary to the president for his removal.
Cheema's stance on his potential sacking was seconded by PTI Vice President Fawad Chaudhry, who said President Dr Arif Alvi had denied removing the governor. "The power to remove the governor belongs to the president. No such summary has reached his office. Therefore, Omar Cheema will continue to serve as the Governor of Punjab," he said.
Meanwhile, the governor, in his press conference, also condemned Saturday's chaotic events in the Punjab Assembly (PA) that saw PML-N and PML-Q MPAs come to blows while PTI MPAs threw lotas at the opposition. PA Deputy Speaker Dost Mazari and PML-Q chief Pervez Elahi were attacked as well.
Cheema pinned the blame on newly elected Punjab Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz for the ruckus, saying that if "Hamza Shehbaz really had so many supporting votes then there was no need to make the election controversial like this."
He said the election had been rendered "controversial" due to yesterday's events, adding that he had summoned a report from the PA secretary.
Cheema also lashed out at Mazari, saying he had proved to be a lota and did not act in a non-partisan manner while conducting the assembly session. He downplayed the attack on Mazari, saying that the deputy speaker occupied his office due to the votes of PTI MPAs and "he stabbed us in the back at the last moment so it was their (attackers') natural reaction."
When asked about his stance of administering oath to CM Hamza Shehbaz, he doubted the authenticity of the chief minister's election, saying that he could not give a constitutional endorsement to any unconstitutional action while occupying a constitutional office.
"So if someone calls upon me for serving the oath [of Hamza as the chief minister] then I will only start those proceedings once I am satisfied that the election was conducted in accordance with constitutional requirements and the Lahore High Court's (LHC) order."
He said the oathtaking ceremony was, therefore, "adjourned" for now.
Sources had earlier said that the governor was of the view that Hamza’s election was not legal after holding a meeting with his team of constitutional experts. The sources said the team had briefed the governor on the “unconstitutional process” resorted to for the election of the new chief minister.
They had added that in case of refusal by the governor, Hamza might take oath from the LHC chief justice.