Saturday, April 16, 2022
LAHORE: PML-N leader Hamza Shahbaz was elected as chief minister Punjab on Saturday in a ruckus marred session of the Punjab Assembly.
Ahead of the vote, three PTI members of the Punjab Assembly were arrested for attacking Deputy Speaker Dost Mohammad Mazari as the party boycotted the session to elect the new chief minister.
Hamza was elected as the new chief minister with 197 votes. While his rival Pervez Elahi did not receive any votes as his party and PTI had boycotted the polls.
Hamza is the third member of his family to be elected as chief minister of Punjab. Earlier, his father Shehbaz Sharif, who is now the PM, and his uncle former prime minister Nawaz Sharif had also held the post.
After much wait and delay due to a ruckus, the session finally started, with Deputy Speaker Mazari in the chair once the assembly's order was restored.
The session was scheduled to start at 11:30am. However, it was delayed as government lawmakers — PTI and PML-Q — resorted to violence.
After Mazari announced the result, the session was adjourned for Iftar.
Once the session resumed, the deputy speaker called Hamza to address the house, who termed his victory “a win for democracy” after the nation was kept tense for the last two weeks.
Summing up the events of the past two weeks, The CM-elect said that when the session was first summoned to elect the new leader of the house people “were attacked”.
The PML-N leader also shared that advocate general Punjab had assured the Supreme Court that the session to elect the new CM would be held on April 6 but on that day the doors of the assembly were closed and the deputy speaker’s powers were taken back.
“History does not forgive anyone,” said Hamza. He added that when the session was called for the third time today the deputy speaker was attacked.
“We were sitting in the lobby and got to know that you were targeted. I believe this is not an attack on you but on this assembly’s sanctity. Time goes but characters are remembered,” said Hamza.
The PML-N leader said what Pervez Elahi did as custodian of the house was a violation of the oath he had taken.
“Mr speaker today the braveness with which you fulfilled your role I pay tribute to you for your bravery,” Hamza told Mazari who was presiding over the session.
The CM-elect said that the deputy speaker was “threatened every way” and for the “third time a joke was made of Constitution and law”.
“Nation was worried for 15 days and today despite all this democracy won. This is not my victory it is a victory of each and every member sitting here,” said Hamza while thanking all the parties that supported him including the MPAs of dissident PTI leaders Aleem Khan and Jahangir Tareen groups.
Turning his guns towards PTI Chairman Imran Khan, Hamza said that four years ago the Opposition had taken oath as MPAs to keep the “wheels of democracy running”.
Hamza said that earlier he had told the former prime minister Imran Khan that the nation may forget the “wounds of rigging” if his party performs “10%” of what PML-N did.
The CM-elect said that the Opposition supported the government and “was present in the assembly throughout these years despite hurdles”.
“I want to ask Imran Khan why did you promise 10 million jobs, five million houses when currently hundreds of thousands of youngsters are unemployed at the moment,” he said.
Recalling that the inflation rate was at 3-4% when PML-N's tenure ended, he highlighted that during PTI’s tenure inflation rate rose to 12%.
“I am not saying this The Economist has marked Pakistan as the third most expensive country around the world,” he said.
Hamza listed the sugar and wheat scams to highlight the failures of the PTI-led government.
“Inflation rose because of bad governance,” he asserted.
Hamza took a jibe at the former PTI government recalling that Imran Khan, when he was in the Opposition, said that he would attempt suicide rather than go to the International Monetary Fund.
The CM-elect maintained that the former government created an ambiguous situation for six months, which shattered investors’ confidence, devalued the Pakistani currency against the US dollar, and then surrendered in front of the IMF.
“Countries do take loans but timing is important,” he said, adding that the PTI government was experimenting and playing around with the country.
Referring to the ruckus and violence that took place earlier today in the assembly, the newly elected chief minister of Punjab said that PTI lawmakers adopted violence and ridiculed other MPs, particularly female lawmakers.
“Is this how Pakistan will progress?” he said, mentioning that the world is a global village and Pakistan has trade ties with the European Union but former prime minister Imran Khan criticised the EU; not only that "his ego came in between the foreign policy of Pakistan."
Referring to Imran Khan’s earlier statement that he wasn’t elected as the prime minister to know about the prices of ‘aloo and tamatar’, Hamza questioned that if he [Imran Khan] wasn’t elected to know the grievances of the public then “did the public elect you to become the king?”
Amid continuous slogans being chanted by the members of the assembly, he said: “Firstly, I want to thank everybody, the members of the assembly, who elected me as the chief minister of Punjab and I also want to thank that PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif and President Shehbaz Sharif was instilling their confidence in me.”
Addressing the speaker, the newly elected chief minister said that Punjab was growing, transfers and posting of employees were done based on merit, and the chief minister himself conducted an interview of the deputy commissioner and assistant commissioner, Shehbaz Sharif himself visited places if any incident took place.
However, after the PTI came into power, cases of robbery and rapes in the provincial capital — Lahore — increased, 30% of the safe city’s cameras are broken, and five IGs and six chief secretaries were replaced.
Hamza further mentioned that if PTI couldn’t make a bigger plan they should have at least cleared the garbage in the city, adding that there is no cleanliness in Lahore at the moment.
Recalling the best medical facilities during the Shehbaz Sharif’s tenure as the CM, he further added that successful kidney transplants were being held in the province, and medicines for cancer patients were available for everybody; however, under PTI’s health care the patients are first asked to first bring the medicines.
Regarding his plans for the province, Hamza said: “I am Nawaz Sharif’s worker I will work day and night for the betterment of the people.”
Hamza termed Usman Buzdar’s appointment as CM Punjab a “conspiracy”, saying that if the country has to move forward, the best local government system has to be introduced in the province.
“I am not happy that the law enforcement agencies had to come to the House; however, I commend the police officials for whatever role they played today,” he maintained, referring to the ruckus that was created earlier in the assembly today.
Hamza said: “We won’t take revenge we will work hard and if we succeed in making the lives of the people easier this will be the biggest revenge from anyone.”
The newly elected CM vowed to bring good police officers and bureaucrats to the province. “We will appoint the chairman of the public accounts committee from the Opposition and will restore that sanctity of this House,” he vowed.
Earlier, the lawmakers of the ruling party had thrown "lotas" at Mazari and attacked the deputy speaker and pulled his hair despite the presence of security guards. The deputy speaker left the hall after this and the session was delayed.
Before assaulting Mazari, the PTI lawmakers caused a ruckus when they brought "lotas" to the house and started chanting "lota, lota" (turncoats) as they lashed out at dissident PTI MPAs who parted ways with the party and decided to support the Opposition.
As the situation got intense and requests were made for the police to control the situation, the anti-riot force personnel entered the assembly wearing bulletproof jackets and arrested the PTI MPAs.
The police entered the premises of the Punjab Assembly through the old building and took control of the situation.
Mid the ruckus, Elahi, who was a candidate for chief minister, was also not spared as well and became a target of the violence in the assembly that left him injured.
"They have rewarded me well in return for my goodness," said Elahi — who got his hand bandaged after he was injured during the ruckus.
"Has this ever happened to any speaker before," asked the PML-Q leader, adding that everything was pre-planned.
They crossed all lines today trying to manhandle me in an attempt to "finish me", he said.
Elahi said that the courts are not for the poor and he will ask for justice from God.
Recalling the time when the Supreme Court took notice at midnight, Elahi said that sou motu notice is taken when influential people are involved.
Talking about the fight in the assembly, Speaker Elahi alleged that Hamza Shehbaz was giving orders to "hit" the members.
"I took care of him when his family was in exile," recalled Elahi.
"Rana Mashood tortured me after which I fell unconscious and he was guiding them," claimed the PTI's candidate for chief minister, adding that his arm was broken.
He went on to allege that the female members were attacked by the police on the orders of the deputy speaker when they went to talk to him, after which the male members of the assembly went before them.
"Whatever happened today in the assembly is to be blamed on Deputy Speaker Mazari," he claimed. The PML-Q leader further said that the deputy speaker brought the violence upon himself.
"Who will accept their voting," asked Elahi. He alleged that the members of the government were "dictators" and "real enemies of democracy".
Following his father’s injury, Pervez Elahi’s sons Moonis Elahi and Rasikh reached the Punjab Assembly.
Replying to a question about whether Moonis was there to fight, he replied that he has come to question those involved in the incident that what was the need to "torture" an old man.
After the attack, Deputy Speaker Mazari, in a statement, said the election would take place at any cost and that he would return to the assembly's building later.
"I will fulfil my constitutional and legal duty [...] the attack against me was orchestrated, it was not abrupt," the deputy speaker said.
He also lashed out at Elahi and said: "This is not Gujrat where you can do whatever you want. This is the Punjab Assembly and here, we follow the Constitution and law."
Former chief minister Punjab Usman Buzdar condemned today's incident in the Punjab assembly and said that everything should've been carried out with patience.
"Whatever happened today, should not have taken place," he added.
Talking to Geo News in the assembly, Buzdar said this whole incident should be investigated on a legal basis as this has never happened before in any assembly.
Following the ruckus in Punjab Assembly today, PML-Q leader Parvez Elahi has filed a case in Qila Gujjar Singh Police Station of Lahore.
Elahi alleged in the complaint that police personnel in civilian clothes entered the House during the session today violating the sanctity of the House and pushing the women MPs.
In the complaint, the former speaker of the Punjab Assembly accused Hamza Shahbaz of ordering his MPAs to “kill" him.
“On the orders of Hamza, Rana Mashood attacked me after taking sticks from police officials,” Elahi alleged in his complaint.
While the session of the PA was yet to start, the National Assembly session kicked off and elected a new speaker, Raja Pervez Ashraf. During the lower house's session, PML-N leader Khawaja Asif condemned the attack on the deputy speaker.
"Dost Mazari was tortured [...] the assembly's sanctity was violated; we will not allow hooliganism to take place and strive for the upholding of the constitution," Asif said.
The PML-N leader termed the attack on the deputy speaker a “day of shame” for the parliamentarians as he blamed Pervez Elahi and PTI Chairman Imran Khan for the events that transpired in the assembly.
Asif berated the PTI government in Punjab and said they wanted to cling on to power illegally. "Whatever is happening in Punjab is illegal and unconstitutional."
In an apparent reference to the PML-Q, the ex-foreign minister said the "gangsters of Gujrat" were brought to the assembly.
"We will not allow it," Asif reiterated.
In a tweet, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said the attack on the deputy speaker was not only an attack on the Punjab assembly, but it was an attack on the courts that had ruled he conduct elections.
"An attack on our democracy, an attack on our constitution, an attack on our federation and an attack on the people of South Punjab," Bilawal termed the recent incidents in the assembly.
A tough competition was expected between the two candidates — Hamza Shahbaz and Parvez Elahi. Hamza was the joint candidate of PML-N and other coalition parties, while PML-Q's Elahi was being backed by PTI.
However, it ended in a one sided contest after the PTI and PML-Q chose to boycott the session.
The April 16 session is being held in line with the LHC's Wednesday order, wherein it rejected Hamza's plea to hold the early elections and restored the powers of the deputy speaker.
The deputy speaker — whose powers were withdrawn last week — was asked by the court to hold the election on April 16.
The CM's office has been vacant for nearly two weeks since ex-governor Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar — who was removed from his position last week — accepted Usman Buzdar's resignation on April 1.