Sunday Jan 22, 2023
Soon after the appointment of Syed Mohsin Raza Naqvi — a nominee of the opposition — as interim chief minister for Punjab by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) on Sunday categorically rejected the decision, declaring “Naqvi” as “controversial” personality.
The electoral authority's decision comes after the failure of the government and the opposition to reach a consensus on the caretaker chief executive, the move appeared to kick off a new round of controversy in the country.
In a declaration, the ECP said that the meeting, chaired by Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja, made the consensus decision to appoint Naqvi as the caretaker for Punjab CM.
ECP members Nisar Ahmad Durrani, Shah Mohammad Jatoi, Babar Hassan Bharwana and Justice (retd) Ikramullah Khan were among the attendees of the meeting.
Meanwhile, the ECP issued a notification in this regard and penned to the provincial governor about administering the oath to Naqvi.
Following the no consensus, the matter was sent to the electoral body under Clause 3 of Article 224-A of the Constitution.
ECP Secretary Umar Hameed Khan, Special Secretary Zafar Iqbal Hussain, director generals and additional DGs of the relevant departments were among the 15 attendees of the special meeting of the electoral watchdog.
Khan and Iqbal briefed the meeting on the matter. The huddle decided the matter after considering all legal and constitutional aspects, the sources privy to the development said.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Senior Vice-President Fawad Chaudhry rejected the appointment of Naqvi as caretaker Punjab chief executive and vowed to launch a massive campaign against “this system”.
Reacting to the decision, Fawad said: “No other options left but taking to the streets against this system.”
He added that they rejected the ECP’s decision about appointing a “controversial” person to the key post.
Taking a jibe at the electoral watchdog, he said, “The ECP never disappointed them.”
Fawad asked the PTI’s activists to prepare themselves for a massive campaign under the leadership of Imran Khan.
Taking to Twitter, Fawad Chaudhry warned that people would “now make their own decisions”. He wrote, “[We] reject the appointment of Mohsin Raza Naqvi [as caretaker chief minister].
PTI Secretary General Asad Umar also took to the micro-blogging site and termed the ECP's decision as a "joke with the Constitution".
Criticising the decision, another senior PTI leader and former education minister, Shafqat Mahmood tweeted: "The one man considered most unsuitable for this position."
He also claimed, " This amounts to virtually handing over power to [PML]N and PPP to conduct elections in Punjab."
Elahi to move top court against ‘controversial’ pick
Expressing severe concerns over the ECP’s “controversial” decision, Punjab’s outgoing Chief Minister Parvez Elahi announced challenging the appointment of Naqvi as interim chief executive in the Supreme Court.
Reacting to the decision, the CM asked: “How can justice be expected from a person who made a plea bargain worth Rs3.5 million.”
The outgoing chief executive also said that the “controversial decision” was against every rule and regulation.
Commenting on the appointment of Punjab interim chief minister, lawyer Reza Ali foresaw the selection to be challenged in the court. “This would be challenged, even if they have to do it for cosmetic reasons because in any event within the next 60 days, the elections are to be held and the challenge would be a fairly short one.”
The legal expert added that the ECP notifying the interim “CM seems unusual”, as according to his understanding, they neither have the power nor the mandate to “actually do that unless they received direct instructions from the governor”.
“It does seem to be quite murky at the moment because I’m not sure if a lot of law and jurisprudence have been developed on this or not,” he added.
Lahore-born Mohsin Raza Naqvi is a journalist by profession. He got his higher education in the United States and was associated with the American TV channel CNN during his stay in Miami. After returning to Pakistan, he served as the regional head of CNN.
According to a report, former prime minister and PPP chairperson Benazir Bhutto, who Mohsin had interviewed, was the last person she contacted before her assassination.
Mohsin founded the local media City News Network in 2009 at the age of 30 and now owns six news channels and a newspaper. He is also widely known in the political arena and has strong relations with leading political figures.
Sunday (today) was the last day for the electoral body to pick a name for the caretaker chief minister.
It is pertinent to mention here that the outgoing Punjab chief minister Parvez Elahi had proposed the names of Sardar Ahmad Nawaz Sukhera and Naveed Akram Cheema while opposition leader Hamza Shehbaz had forwarded the names of Syed Mohsin Raza Naqvi and Ahad Khan Cheema.
The matter landed at the ECP after a parliamentary committee, constituted by the Punjab Assembly speaker, failed to evolve a consensus on a candidate for the slot of the caretaker provincial chief executive.