Amid chaos, PA echoes with demand for trust vote

Published January 11, 2023
In this series of screengrabs, opposition MPAs can be seen protesting in front of the speaker’s dais (not pictured) and tearing up copies of the agenda as they raise slogans against Chief Minister Parvez Elahi and the Punjab government in the provincial assembly on Tuesday.—Dawn
In this series of screengrabs, opposition MPAs can be seen protesting in front of the speaker’s dais (not pictured) and tearing up copies of the agenda as they raise slogans against Chief Minister Parvez Elahi and the Punjab government in the provincial assembly on Tuesday.—Dawn

• CM refuses to take vote of confidence, LHC to take up his plea today
• Opposition lambasts CM over ‘failure’ to show majority
• Shoe hurled at Rana Sanaullah’s vehicle
• Fawad claims PTI MPAs ‘being offered bribes’

LAHORE: A day before the Lahore High Court (LHC) begins proceedings that may determine whether Chaudhry Parvez Elahi remains Punjab chief minister or not, the opposition in the provincial assembly challenged him to prove his majority in the house, amid chaotic scenes.

The action-packed day of political wranglings which started with rumpus in the house culminated with a shoe hurled at the car of Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah.

As Tuesday’s session began three hours after its scheduled time, the opposition demanded Chief Minister Elahi to take a vote of trust as per the Dec 19 directive of the governor.

However, Mr Elahi evaded the vote for the second consecutive day.

Irked by the government’s reaction, the opposition members tore up copies of the agenda and thumped their desks while chanting slogans of “Parvez Elahi dakoo.”

Speaking in the house, PML-N MPA Rana Mashhood lambasted the treasury for accusing the opposition of not taking part in the legislation on Monday when the house passed 21 bills.

He claimed the speaker did not complete the formation of standing committees tasked with vetting draft legislations while the copies of draft bills were also not circulated among the lawmakers in violation of rules.

“I sought the floor four times during Monday’s proceedings to demand that the chair conduct voting on the bills but Speaker Sibtain Khan denied me the right,” he added.

Referring to the governor’s directive, Mr Mashood said taking the trust vote was the constitutional responsibility of the chief minister.

The chief minister should take the vote at once to show he still enjoyed the support of the majority.

Later, the PML-N submitted a resolution with the assembly secretariat for appointment of a neutral member and not the speaker or deputy speaker to chair the proceedings of the vote of confidence.

PML-N members ‘denied’ entry

Earlier, PML-N lawmakers forced their way into the house, claiming that they were not allowed into the assembly building by the police at the behest of CM Elahi and Speaker Sibtain Khan.

The assembly’s security staff tried to stop Interior Minister Rana Sanullah and PM’s Special Assistant Attaullah Tarar from entering the building.

However, PML-N MPAs ‘forcibly’ opened the doors and took the two leaders inside.

The PTI protested against the presence of the federal cabinet members with a treasury member Zaheer Abbas Khokhar staging a walkout from the house.

As Mr Sanullah left the assembly after the proceedings, a show was hurled at his vehicles in which the interior minister was travelling, allegedly by PTI MPA Raja Rashid Hafeez’s driver.

Videos posted on social media showed the show landing on the vehicle’s windscreen.

Proceedings will resume on Wednesday (today) at 3pm.

Horse-trading allegations

As the government and the opposition scramble to complete their numbers before the impending vote of confidence, the PTI has alleged that its MPAs were being offered bribes to not vote for CM Elahi.

PTI’s leader Fawad Chaudhry has said that the party’s lawmakers from Muzaffargarh are being offered bribes of over Rs1bn to vote against the party’s directives.

In a separate media talk outside PTI Chairman Imran Khan’s residence, Mr Chaudhry alleged that PTI MPA Momina Waheed has also been bribed to the tune of Rs50m for turning a turncoat.

He demanded Army Chief General Asim Munir to take notice and ensure the neutrality of his institution as the PTi wanted ‘a keep working relationship’ with all institutions and not antagonism.

“The COAS should order an independent inquiry into the sale-purchase of the members of Punjab assembly,” he said.

Muzaffargarh MPAs deny bribery allegations

Meanwhile, PTI’s MPAs from Muzaffargarh have denied Mr Chauhdry’s claims saying that they had not received any offers.

While talking to Dawn, PTI MPA from Muzaffargarh Mian Alamdar Abbas Qureshi said he will vote for Mr Elahi in line with the PTI chairman’s direction.

Another PTI MPA, while requesting anonymity, also denied any offers from unknown callers.

MPA Niaz Ahmad Gishkori from Kot Addu claimed he was with his party, PTI, and cannot even think of selling his vote However, rumours have started circulating as two of the PTI’s MPAs openly sided with party’s disgruntled leader Jehangir Khan Tareen during the reign of former CM Usman Buzdar.

MPAs Abdul Haye Dasti and Khurram Khan Leghari opposed Mr Buzdar and attended meetings with Mr Tareen as both were considered close to the latter.

There are 12 lawmakers from Muzaffargarh and Kot Addu in the Punjab Assembly with three part of the PML-N and others with the PTI.

He said the treasury has already demonstrated its majority as 21 bills sponsored by the government sailed through the house on Monday.

‘ECP warrants have no legal value’

Commenting on Mr Khan’s warrants issued by the Election Commission, Mr Chaudhry said they have no legal value.

The PTI is moving court for contempt against the ECP. The final decision in this regard would be taken tomorrow.

Denying that the PML-Q has demanded 20 seats in the next election, Mr Chaudhry said that parties are negotiating different arrangements “seat-by-seat.”

Ahmad Fraz Khan in Lahore and Malik Tahseen Raza in Muzaffargarhalso contributed to this report

Published in Dawn, January 11th, 2023

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