LAHORE: Ahead of Wednesday’s (today’s) ‘all important’ Lahore High Court hearing on the trust vote matter, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah has said the court is likely to make it binding on Chief Minister Chaudhry Parvez Elahi to obtain vote of confidence and hinted at imposition of governor’s rule in case any unconstitutional step is taken by the Punjab government.

Given the importance of the case, the PML-N leadership has ordered presence of maximum number of its MPAs in the court during the hearing.

The LHC had on Dec 23 suspended Punjab Governor Balighur Rehman’s order de-notifying the Punjab chief minister, restoring Mr Elahi and his cabinet on the assurance that the provincial assembly will not be dissolved, at least til the next date of hearing -- Jan 11.

“The court is likely to issue a binding order for the chief minister to take a vote of trust as per the instruction of the governor. According to the Constitution, he (CM) will have to take it (trust vote ) on the governor’s order, failing which he cannot remain in the office,” Sanaullah told reporters outside the Punjab Assembly, where he accused the provincial administration of stopping him and other federal ministers from entering the assembly.

Warns of governor’s rule if govt resorts to any ‘unconstitutional step’

The interior minister said the CM did not have the required number (186 members) to obtain the trust vote in the Punjab Assembly, admitting candidly that the PML-N and its allies lack the numerical strength as well. “We have 179 votes in the PA and are trying to get one more (vote) to reach a tally of 180,” he said, suggesting that all hopes are pinned on the run-off election for the CM slot if Mr Elahi does not manage to get the required votes.

CM Elahi has already declared that he does not need to go for the trust vote, because the governor’s order was “illegal”. The governor cannot ask the chief executive of the province to take trust vote while the assembly is in session, he argues. Both the PTI and PML-Q claim they have the required number in the assembly and will show it in the house if asked (by the court).

Sanaullah further said: “If the Elahi administration takes any unconstitutional step, the governor’s rule can be imposed as a last resort.”

Accusing the provincial government and the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI)’s of committing corruption, saying the intelligence agencies had a report in this regard and a case would be instituted against those involved after the government’s departure.

“If the NAB or FIA requested the federal government, we may place the name of Mr Elahi and PTI chairman Imran Khan on the no-fly list,” he warned.

The minister was of the view that the solution to the country’s problems did not lie in snap polls. “Even if the polls are held (ahead of scheduled time) and Imran Khan’s party does not win, he (PTI chairman) will not accept it. And in case he wins it will be detrimental to the country,” he said and defended Maryam Nawaz’s elevation in the party, saying it was a long standing demand of all the party members, including him.

Meanwhile, Governor Rehman said in a statement that as CM Elahi refrained from taking vote of confidence on the fixed time and date, he and his cabinet stood de-notified.

“The Punjab government is running on the interim order of the court,” he said and expressed hope that the court would announce a final verdict on this case soon.

PM’s special assistant Attaullah Tarar said: “We request the LHC to order the chief minister to obtain the vote of confidence, otherwise we will move the Supreme Court.”

Published in Dawn, January 11th, 2023

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