The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) stated on Wednesday that it would petition the Supreme Court to remove Punjab Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s decision on defecting legislators.
The PTI has also hinted at accepting the PML-N-led government’s willingness to discuss about electoral changes, but only after the date for the next elections is set. The party also met with the leaders of the PML-Q to create a unified strategy to depose Hamza.
PPP parliamentarians led by Hasan Murtaza met with the chief minister to examine the situation following the Supreme Court decision. Following the PML-apparent N’s rejection of the PPP for the Punjab governor and assembly speaker positions, the PPP is eyeing at least four ministries and certain advisory roles in Punjab. The PPP legislators assured Hamza of their support and guaranteed him that a run-off election for CM would not be held.
Separate meetings with legal experts were convened by both CM Hamza and the PTI provincial leadership to consider the implications of the Supreme Court’s judgement, which declared that the votes of defecting lawmakers will not be counted.
In light of this scenario, the PML-N has stated that if a situation occurs as a result of the SC ruling, it is prepared to hold a run-off election for a new chief minister. The PTI, on the other hand, believes Hamza will step down as CM after the Supreme Court issues a “clear ruling” on the status of turncoats. If he does not quit immediately, the party will petition the court to have him deported.
Hamza, according to Federal Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar, will not resign. “Both the federal and Punjab governments will serve until August 2023,” he stated emphatically.
“If the PTI proves (in the Election Commission of Pakistan) that its parliamentary meeting was held and the lawmakers were advised to vote for Chaudhry Parvez Elahi (the joint PTI-PML-Q candidate for CM), we still have the majority to win the run-off election for the office,” PML-N deputy secretary general Ataullah Tarar added.
He predicted that the PML-N, with the help of the PPP, independents, and Rah-i-Haq MPs, will win 173 seats in the Punjab Assembly, compared to 168 for the PTI-PML-Q. However, because the PML-N has 161 seats, the PPP has seven, three independents have three, and the lone Rah-i-Haq Party has one, any run-off election might be a tight race, as no party can currently poach lawmakers from other parties.
Awais Leghari, Punjab secretary general of the PML-N, has asked President Dr Arif Alvi to help end the constitutional issue in Punjab by appointing a governor and forming a provincial cabinet. Shehbaz Sharif, the prime minister, has previously submitted the president a summary selecting party loyalist Balighur Rehman.
Meanwhile, former federal minister Fawad Chaudhry of the PTI remarked in a press conference here that after the Supreme Court’s decision, Punjab had no government. “In light of the highest court’s ruling, the PTI has decided in principle to submit a petition in court to expel Hamza,” he added, adding that despite losing 26 PTI lotas (turncoats), the PTI-PML-Q still had a majority in the Punjab Assembly with 173 votes, while the PML-N had 172.
“According to the Supreme Court’s decision in the Mustafa Impex case, a province’s government consists of a chief minister and the cabinet. Because the CM cannot make administrative and budgetary decisions on his own, there is currently no government in Punjab, and any such decision by the CM will be nullified.
Mr Chaudhry speculated that President Alvi may urge Prime Minister Shehbaz to take a vote of confidence because the latter lacked the needed 172 votes in the National Assembly. “The PTI is willing to engage negotiations with the government about electoral reforms provided it announces a date for fresh elections,” he stated in response to a query.
Meanwhile, Punjab PTI leaders Sibtain Khan, Dr Murad Raas, Makhdoom Hashim Jawan Bakht, and Syed Alamdar Abbas met with PML-Q Punjab Assembly Speaker Parvez Elahi and former federal minister Moonis Elahi at their residence here on Wednesday to explore a unified strategy to unseat CM Hamza.
“The phoney administration of Hamza Shehbaz has come to an end with the SC ruling,” a statement issued after the meeting claimed. Hamza’s current status at the chief minister’s residence is only that of an occupant.”
The meeting also asked that Hamza leave his position as CM immediately.
Moonis Elahi wrote in a series of tweets, “We (PTI-PML-Q MPAs) are 173 to begin with.” We will be much more than 173 when the total count (in the run-off CM election) is completed, insha’Allah.
Seats for three women and two minorities will be filled once more.”
In response to a journalist’s tweet, he also asserted that the PTI-PML-Q had not boycotted the April 16 CM poll. “As you are aware, this election is decided by House division. Since police barred the way for PTI members on the yes side, they were unable to enter. As a result, they couldn’t vote,” he explained.