PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government on Friday strongly reacted to the interior minister’s statement regarding ‘legal action’ against Chief Minister Mahmood Khan for leading a procession to Islamabad and warned that the centre should desist from taking any extraordinary step against the provincial government.
The simmering tensions between KP and federal governments have steadily risen, coming to a head with former Prime Minister and PTI chairman Imran Khan leading a march on the federal capital from Peshawar.
Mr Imran has returned to Peshawar and is, according to the PTI insiders, perched in the Chief Minister’s House.
“The federal government has the right to impose emergency in a province under Article 232 of the Constitution only when there is serious disturbance or governance crisis,” special assistant to the chief minister on information Barrister Saif told a presser here.
CM aide insists emergency can be imposed in province by president and not federal govt
Accompanied by finance minister Taimur Saleem Jhagra and higher education minister Kamran Khan Bangash, Barrister Saif said CM Mahmood Khan was a constitutional, legal and elected chief minister and there was no crisis in the province.
He also said the powers to declare emergency in a province under Section 232-A of the Constitution rested with the president and not with the government and that the federal government should not think about taking such an ‘ugly’ step.
“Don’t make a mockery of the Constitution and the federal government has no powers to declare emergency in the province,” he said.
The CM’s aide said interior minister Rana Sanaullah was seeking some pretext to take action against the provincial government under Article 232 of the Constitution.
He said interior minister Rana Sanaullah had accused Chief Minister Mahmood Khan of misusing his legal position and attacking the federal capital by involving the province’s police.
Barrister Saif also said the interior minister had also spoke about a legal action against the chief minister.
“Mahmood Khan is an elected chief minister, who could take his guards to Islamabad for personal security that was part of the protocol,” he said.
The special assistant to the chief minister said Mahmood Khan led the procession as Articles 15 and 16 of the Constitution gave the ‘right of freedom and freedom of assembly’ to every citizen.
He also assailed federal government for making amendments to elections and accountability related laws in the National Assembly.
Barrister Saif said by amending the law, the ‘imported’ federal government had deprived more than nine million oversees Pakistanis of the right to vote in the country while remaining abroad.
He said the government had violated Article 25 of the Constitution and appealed to the Supreme Court to protect fundamental rights of the citizens.
“Casting vote is the fundamental right of the citizens and these amendments to the law are in conflict with their fundamental rights,” he said.
Speaking on the occasion, minister Kamran Bangash condemned the police’s action against PTI marchers in Islamabad and Punjab and claimed that the protesters were peaceful.
He said the Punjab government disproportionately used force against protesters and blocked all roads to stop them from participating in a democratic movement.
“PTI chairman Imran Khan ended the Azadi March to avert clash between state institutions and citizens. The PTI does not want anarchy in the country. Prolonging the protest movement was not in favour of the country,” he said.
The minister said former prime minister Imran Khan saved the country from serious crises.
He criticised the federal government over 50 per cent cut in the Higher Education Commission’s budget and said 32 public sector universities in KP would receive just Rs30 billion, which was not enough to meet operational costs.
“The universities had demanded Rs104 billion funds, so they won’t accept such a massive budget cut,” he said.
Minister Jhagra said around four million Pakhtuns living in the Gulf won’t be able to cast vote in the next general elections.
He asked nationalist parties, including the Awami National Party, to fight for the rights of the Pakhtun diaspora abroad.
Published in Dawn, May 28th, 2022