ISLAMABAD: Punjab continues to face political, administrative and constitutional crises as President Dr Arif Alvi on Saturday once again refused to accept the summary sent to him by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif regarding the appointment of a new governor in Punjab.

Dr Alvi asked the PM to “reconsider” his advice about appointment of PML-N leader Baleeghur Rehman as the new governor, declaring “Omar Sarfraz Cheema still holds the office”, according to an official announcement by the president’s secretariat.

However, sources in the PML-N told Dawn that immediately after receiving the president’s communication on Saturday, the PM again moved the summary for Mr Rehman’s appointment as the governor. Even if the president did not accept the summary again, Mr Rehman would become governor after 10 days under the law, the sources explained.

Referring to the May 9 communication of the president secretariat, Dr Alvi reiterated: “The governor shall hold office during the pleasure of the president” as per Article 101(2) of the Constitution. According to him, the present circumstances demanded Mr Cheema, who had been removed by the federal government on May 9 through a late night notification, continue to hold office.

President Alvi also mentioned the letter Mr Cheema sent him on April 23 and a report about provincial lawmakers switching loyalties during the election of Hamza Shehbaz as Punjab chief minister, thus causing serious governance issues.

In his communication, Dr Alvi wrote to the PM that the May 17 decision of the Supreme Court on the reference seeking interpretation of Article 63-A of the Constitution and the May 20 decision of the Election Commission of Pakistan de-seating the 25 Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) MPAs, who had voted for Hamza Shehbaz during the CM election, “vindicated the principled stand of the governor (Cheema)”.

“In view of the above-mentioned facts, the president asked the prime minister to reconsider his advice with regard to the appointment of a new Punjab governor in accordance with Article 48(1) of the Constitution,” says the official statement.

CM Hamza was elected on April 16 during a violent session of the provincial assembly. However, he was not sworn in when Mr Cheema refused to administer the oath to him and finally it was on a court directive that National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf administered the oath to Mr Hamza on April 30.

Soon afterwards, Mr Cheema came up with the stance that he had not yet accepted the resignation submitted by then chief minister Usman Buzdar on March 28 on technical reasons and called Hamza as “fake chief minister”.

The PTI also challenged his election in the Lahore High Court.

Published in Dawn, May 22nd, 2022

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