Saturday Apr 30 2022
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Punjab crisis deepens: Governor 'rejects' Buzdar's resignation hours before Hamza’s oath-taking

  • Punjab governor makes another move to scuttle Hamza Shehbaz's oath-taking.
  • Says Usman Buzdar's resignation was not addressed to the governor.
  • NA Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf to administer the oath to Hamza Shahbaz on LHC order.

LAHORE: Just hours before the oath-taking ceremony of CM-elect Hamza Shahbaz Sharif, Punjab Governor Omar Sarfaraz Cheema, in a surprise move Saturday, "rejected" the resignation of Usman Buzdar saying Constitutional requirements were not fulfilled.

The development came after the orders of the Lahore High Court (LHC), directing National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf to administer the oath to Hamza Shahbaz today at 11:30am.

Omar Sarafraz Cheema, in his letter to Punjab Assembly Speaker Pervaiz Elahi, stated that the March 28 resignation letter of Usman Buzdar was not in accordance with the rules as it was addressed to the prime minister and not to the governor which was mandatory as per sub-section 8 of Article 130 of the Constitution.

“The resignation was not addressed to the governor which was unconstitutional and thus rejected. Consequently, the provincial cabinet has been restored,” Cheema stated.

Buzdar had stepped down from his post last month after the PTI decided to nominate PML-Q’s Elahi as Punjab CM in return for the party’s support for a no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Imran Khan. Later, the then governor Chauhdry Mohammad Sarwar had accepted Buzdar’s resignation after meeting in-person with Buzdar.

Meanwhile, Usman Buzdar has summoned a meeting of the Punjab Cabinet today for which provincial ministers have started to arrive at the assembly building.

Speaking to Geo News, Murad Raas and Mian Aslam Iqbal said that there’s no crisis in the province as Governor Cheema holds a constitutional office and he has taken a decision on the matter.

Security heightened

Moreover, security was tightened around Punjab Governor House for the oath-taking ceremony of Hamza Shehbaz. Roads leading to the Governor's House were sealed to avoid any untoward situation.

‘Wrong decision’

Meanwhile, legal expert Salman Akram Raja has said that this is not the right decision taken by Governor Cheema as once the resignation was accepted [by the former governor] the high court was informed and then the procedure of CM’s election was completed — which in legal terms is known as “past and closed transaction”.

The former governor had fulfilled his responsibility, and the attempts of Omar Sarfaraz Cheema to reverse the clock backwards are not possible as the governor does not have such authority.

“Buzdar was working as the caretaker chief minister after his resignation; however, after Hamza takes the oath, it would be unconstitutional if the former continues to call himself the CM of the province,” he said, adding that the governor does not have the authority to withhold elections.

The legal expert said that Buzdar is trying to create a constitutional crisis because in that case the matter will be taken to the court.

“The matter will be taken to court and things will be further clarified in a day or two, however, a delay can be expected due to the Eid ul Fitr holidays,” he said. Raja, however, mentioned that cases are also heard during holidays in case of emergency.

LHC order

On Friday, Justice Jawad Hassan of the LHC, while concluding the third petition of Hamza Shehbaz, directed NA Speaker Raja Pervez Ashraf to administer the oath to Punjab Chief Minister-elect Hamza Shehbaz Saturday (today) at 11:30am.

The LHC announced the verdict on the third petition of Hamza Shehbaz, who had sought the court's directions to complete his oath-taking process.

The judgment had stated that both the decisions of this court despite having binding effect have been ignored deliberately by the President of Pakistan as well as by the Governor of Punjab. The governor through his conduct has also himself made it impracticable for the oath to be made before him.

"Respect for the law is never maintained by force but by the appreciation of the reasons, appreciating its veracity and through obedience. Unfortunately, sometimes, the law falls in crisis due to misunderstanding or lack of vision."

Hamza had filed the petition in the court seeking directions to nominate a person due to the defiant behaviour of the President of Pakistan and Governor of the Punjab province.