Friday, July 22, 2022
After a dramatic day, PML-N's candidate Hamza Shahbaz Friday retained the post of the Punjab chief minister against Punjab Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Pervez Elahi through a three-vote victory.
Following the counting of votes, Punjab Assembly Deputy Speaker Dost Mazari, citing the Supreme Court's opinion in Article 63A case, rejected 10 votes cast by PML-Q members. As a result, Hamza received 179 votes, while Elahi, who was backed by the PTI, managed to bag 176 votes.
As Mazari announced the result, PTI leader Raja Basharat had an argument with the deputy speaker and said that since Chaudhry Sajid was the parliamentary leader of PML-Q, Article 63(A) did not apply to Elahi's case.
"As per Sajid's instruction, all PML-Q members were to vote for Elahi," he said, adding that Shujaat's letter held "no value".
"You are depriving the candidate of his right," Basharat accused the speaker.
As the argument between the two kept escalating, with PTI members refusing to accept the decision, Mazari adjourned the assembly's session, telling PTI and PML-Q members to "approach the court" regarding their grievances.
The Supreme Court of Pakistan, back in May, had ruled the votes of dissident members of the Parliament (MPs), cast against their parliamentary party's directives, cannot be counted.
The apex court, issuing its verdict on the presidential reference seeking the interpretation of Article 63(A) of the Constitution related to defecting lawmakers of the PTI, said that the law cannot be interpreted in isolation.
During today's ruling, Article 63(A) was applied after PML-Q President, Chaudhry Shujaat, wrote a letter to the deputy speaker, saying that he had directed the party not to vote in any party's favour.
Following Mazari's decision to disregard the 10 votes of PML-Q members — a move that allowed Hamza to retain his post as the chief minister of Punjab — PTI said that it would approach the country's top court to challenge the decision.
Following Hamza's victory, Foreign Minister Bilawal-Bhutto Zardari took to his Twitter account and praised his father, saying, "Ek Zardari sab pe bhaari."
In a major development ahead of the voting, PML-Q leader Moonis Elahi said that his uncle, senior party leader Chaudhry Shujaat, had refused to back Imran Khan's candidate Elahi.
He said that he had gone to visit Shujaat but he refused to issue a video recording in this regard. "I have lost and Imran Khan has lost as well but Zardari has won," Moonis quoted his uncle as saying.
In response, former interior minister Sheikh Rasheed said that Elahi was the parliamentary leader of PML-Q.
"Chaudhry Shujaat had said twice or thrice before that he would back Elahi, but Asif Zardari has, once again, exposed himself."
Later, while speaking to senior journalist Ansar Abbasi, Moonis said that Shujaat had written a letter to the deputy speaker, stating that no one from the party will be casting their votes.
"Asif Zardari had assured Shujaat that he would make Elahi the chief minister of Punjab," Moonis said. "Zardari had also told him that Elahi would be the candidate for PML-N and allies."
Moonis added that his party will only vote for Imran Khan's candidate, adding that no one from his party will be casting a vote in favour of PML-N or its allies to become the next chief minister.
He also took to his Twitter account and shared with the masses that a day ago, the PML-Q's parliamentary party leader in the provincial assembly Sajid Bhatti held a party meeting and it was decided unanimously that Elahi would be the candidate for the CM's slot.
The Opposition alliance had 188 members in the house of 371 while the PML-N coalition had 179 MPs when the voting ended.
The only option left for the PML-N was to cause a breach in the PTI-PML(Q) parliamentary strength. And with Shujaat's last-minute move, 10 votes of PML-Q parliamentarians were rejected, which gave the PML-N a breather.
In the second round of the CM's election, the lead of three votes marked the victory of Hamza as he bagged 179 votes, while after the rejection of PML-Q’s votes, Elahi received 176 votes.
The PTI clean sweeping of the July 17 by-election had changed the whole scenario for the nascent government of Hamza after the party won 15 seats. The PTI was confident it would, once again, take over the rule of Punjab but today's election proved otherwise.
Following Shujaat's announcement that the party will distance itself from voting for PTI's candidate in the Punjab CM's election, PML-Q workers, amid a heavy contingent of police personnel, staged a protest outside his Lahore residence.
The protesters held lotas — a symbol for turncoats — in their hands during the demonstration and chanted slogans in favour of Elahi.
Deputy speaker rejects PML-N's objection toward Zain Qureshi, Shabbir Gujjar
At the beginning of the assembly's session, PML-N objected to the presence of PTI candidates Zain Qureshi and Shabbir Gujjar in the house and said that since Zain had not resigned from the membership of the National Assembly, he was not eligible to vote in the provincial assembly. Meanwhile, the party added that since there was a case pending against Gujjar with the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), he cannot cast his vote either.
However, PTI leader Raja Basharat, in Gujjar's defence, said that the ECP had sent a notification in this regard and according to that, Gujjar is eligible to cast his vote.
Following that, Mazari rejected PML-N's objections and said that both PTI candidates could cast their votes.
As the voting for the CM's election did not begin at the designated time of 4pm, the PTI said it has decided to approach the Supreme Court to lodge a complaint against the deputy speaker.
Taking to Twitter, PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry said that the deputy speaker should be trialled for "contempt of court" for delaying the voting despite the top court's orders.
Minister for Railways Khawaja Saad Rafique, in a pre-poll press briefing in Lahore, said that it was not necessary that a change in Punjab will have an effect on the federal government as well.
The federal minister said that the situation was not what it seemed like as he stressed that the PML-N will "remain in Punjab and hold its ground."
In a scathing attack on PTI Chairman Imran Khan, the PML-N leader said that the former prime minister does not wish to see stability in Pakistan and “wishes to turn it into Sri Lanka”.
Talking to journalists shortly before the start of the session, PTI Secretary-General Asad Umar hinted at not dissolving the Punjab Assembly after Elahi gets elected as the chief minister.
“The Punjab Assembly will continue till the current system is intact,” he told journalists.
The PTI leader said that PPP Co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari’s politics of “buying” politicians have ceased to exist as the voters have rejected the party, referring to the PTI's victory in the by-election.
Umar added that the PTI has the numbers it needs and Elahi will win the election.
PTI leader and former minister for Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan affairs Ali Amin Gandapur was seen leading his party’s MPAs in buses to the Punjab Assembly.
Gandapur, known for his hardline attitude, counted the MPAs to ensure that the party has the right number of lawmakers and their and PML-Q’s joint candidate wins the CM election today.
The PTI said that a total of 186 — the required simple majority of lawmakers — had reached the Punjab Assembly and they were asked to remain in the assembly’s committee room.
The lawmakers were taken to the assembly in four separate buses — and were not allowed to arrive at the assembly on their own as the party wanted to ensure that none of their lawmakers went missing for any reason.
The MPAs also offered Friday prayers in the committee room.
Syed Muhammad Rafiuddin Bukhari, an independent candidate who clinched PP-228 Lodhran V in the by-election and secured 45,020 votes, announced support for Hamza.
“Although I am not a member of a party, I will support Hamza Shahbaz sahab,” Bukhari said in a video shared by the PML-N.
On the petition of the Leader of the Opposition in the Punjab Assembly Sibtain Khan and PTI leader Zainab Umar, the Lahore High Court (LHC) prohibited Punjab Police from entering the assembly premises.
LHC’s Justice Muzammil Akhtar Shabbir said that the police can enter the assembly premises if the law and order situation deteriorates.
In a letter written to the chief secretary and inspector-general on the eve of the CM election, Mazari requested that security officials be deployed within the boundaries and inside the premises of the Assembly hall to ward off any untoward incident.
Following the requisition, the Punjab police devised a security plan. According to it, 1,400 security personnel will be deployed inside and outside the Punjab Assembly.
The police said that security officials are being deployed to ensure the proceedings of the session are held peacefully and that the protection of all members of Parliament is also a major concern.