LAHORE: The PTI has decided to call a Punjab Assembly session to elect its chief minister, speaker and deputy speaker after claiming a strength of 250 members, including reserved seats for women and minorities.

On Monday, the party’s central leader, Shaukat Basra, said that PTI members who have won as per Form-45 will attend the session.

He was addressing a press conference, along with other PTI-backed candidates who contested the election for Punjab Assembly.

The candidate held copies of their Forms-45 as Mr Basra told the presser at a marquee in DHA Phase-V that more than half of the elected Punjab Assembly members, including the newly elected chief minister Maryam Nawaz Sharif, were in the house on “a stolen mandate”.

He claimed Ms Sharif was defeated by a PTI-backed candidate, Mehr Sharafat, in Lahore’s PP-159 constituency.

Party says democratic norms ‘trampled’ to elect Maryam to top slot in Punjab

According to ECP’s results, Ms Sharif secured 23,598 votes, while Mr Sharafat trailed with 21,491 votes.

The new Punjab chief minister “won the election on February 9 instead of Feb­ruary 8”, said Mr Basra while claiming that results were rigged to ensure her victory.

“PML-N leaders used to say they struck a deal with powers that be, but they failed to strike a deal with the people of Pakistan,” he said.

“This rigged election will result in anarchy,” Mr Basra observed, adding that the establishment was still requesting PTI foun­der Imran Khan to become prime minister.

“But Mr Khan is determined that the establishment should ensure the mandate given by the people of Pakistan to PTI-backed candidates be returned,” Mr Basra claimed and demanded his party founder be released from jail.

Another PTI leader, Naeem Haider Panjotha, claimed he was winning the election in PP-71 in Sargodha with a massive lead, but eventually he was declared defeated.

“We submitted applications against rigging, but those applications were rejected.”

A PTI-backed candidate, Rooba Umer, said she contested the election on Mr Khan’s suggestion and claimed that her whole family was being victimised due to this. She vowed to “continue standing” with the PTI and Mr Khan.

‘All democratic norms trampled’

Separately, the party has criticised the election of Ms Sharif as the chief minister of Punjab and said all democratic and constitutional norms were trampled to elect her.

In a statement, the party’s spokesperson claimed that police “imposed a curfew” outside the assembly to prevent PTI’s members and the nominee for chief minister from entering the assembly.

“The family, which has been looting the country and the nation ruthlessly for years and made properties abroad, has been given the reins in Punjab to once again start the spree of loot and plunder of nati­onal resources,” the spokesperson alleged.

The statement claimed that after “stealing the public mandate”, the sanctity of the Punjab Assembly was violated to bring a “defeated woman” to power.

Ms Sharif had “no political status except being the daughter of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif”.

“Maryam Nawaz could not even secure her own seat despite the state’s repression and rigging, and she should be ashamed of becoming the chief minister against the will of the people.”

The spokesperson said the people of Punjab “would not tolerate an insult to their mandate”.

The PTI warned the “unconstitutional” government set up after the “ele­ction fra­ud” would soon collapse under its own weight.

Ikram Junaidi in Islamabad also contributed to this report

Published in Dawn, February 27th, 2024

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