LAHORE, Nov 29: Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi of the PML-Q was sworn in as the 14th elected chief minister of Punjab here on Friday evening after his ascertainment as leader of the House the morning.

Governor Khalid Maqbool administered the oath to Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi at the Governor’s House. Prime Minister Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali was also present.

A large number of federal ministers, members of the National and Punjab Assemblies, senior civil and military officers, including Lahore Corps Commander Lt-Gen Zarrar Azim and others, attended the ceremony.

Chaudhry Pervaiz was elected through the division of the House. He secured 235 votes, including 10 of the PPP dissidents and one of the PML-N, in a special session of the provincial assembly held earlier in the day.

His rival Qasim Zia, fielded jointly by the PPP and PML-N for the slot, bagged 102 votes. Nine members of the MMA, including two women, abstained from voting.

But they remained inside the House, saying that they wanted to remain “indifferent”.

In all 337 legislators participated in the process of ascertainment of the leader of the 371-member strong House. At present, the strength of the House has been reduced to 357 out of which 353 have taken oath so far.

The PPP dissidents included Abdul Rashid Bhatti, Imbisat Khan, Rana Aftab, Makhdoom Ashfaq, Shaukat Ali Dogar, Aamir Usman, Rai Mansab Ali Khan, Hasan Raza Kharal, Naveed Jahanian and Wallayat Khagga voted for Chaudhry Pervaiz.

A PPP old guard and former provincial minister Nazim Hussain Shah did not attend the session on account of his illness. Three other PPP members have gone to perform Umra with the party’s permission.

Talib Dogran of the PML-N was among those who crossed the floor.

Chaudhry Pervaiz got less votes than Afzal Sahi who had secured 243 in the election conducted through secret ballot on Wednesday.

Immediately after his election as leader of the House, Chaudhry Pervaiz thanked President Gen Pervez Musharraf for fulfilling his promise of holding the election on schedule.

He also urged the need for protecting and promoting democracy. Otherwise, he said, the “result would be the same as had been witnessed by the previous assemblies.”

The PML-Q leaders, Chaudhry Shujaat and Majid Malik, and advisor to the prime minister Shaukat Aziz, former leader of the Opposition in the Punjab Assembly Saeed Manais, and Chaudhry Wajahat were among those who witnessed the election from the gallery.

The Punjab Home Secretary, Ejaz Shah, a retired brigadier, was also present at the time of the division and was seen exchanging pleasantries with the PML-Q MPAs.

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