The Lahore High Court (LHC) reinstated Parvez Elahi as the chief minister after Mr. Elahi contested the governor’s notification to de-notify him as the chief minister and dissolve his cabinet. As a result, the Punjab governor must sack his advisers. These unusual and unique incidents involving elected public officials will go down in history as a dark chapter. The Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) leader had previously been de-notified as chief minister by Punjab Governor Balighur Rehman in the dead of night because “he did not take a vote of confidence despite the passing of several hours.” The Punjab Assembly voted a resolution denouncing the governor’s “illegal and unconstitutional” decision to de-notify the provincial chief executive, joining the court in criticizing the governor. The governor watched as the same house placed its trust in Mr. Elahi after attempting to oust the chief minister for “lacking the confidence of the house.” The governor’s action was criticized by the house as an attempt to topple the provincial administration enjoying the majority. According to the resolution, “on December 22, the Punjab governor violated his power, disregarded the people’s mandate, jeopardized the integrity of the house, and created an administrative crisis in the province by issuing an illegal order against the elected CM and the provincial cabinet.”
Pakistan’s political history is marred by attempts to destabilize assemblies through draconian announcements with legal protection. This must end immediately, and public representatives must be allowed to do their jobs. The only acceptable way to dethrone a chief minister or prime minister is through a vote of no confidence, which PML-N and PPP leaders attempted to use against Mr. Elahi. However, the no-confidence vote against Elahi was withdrawn since the parties deemed it superfluous after the PML-Q leader “ceased to be the chief minister” following his de-notification. The ruling coalition in the center has already ousted Imran Khan with a no-confidence vote. However, in Punjab, they are attempting to paralyze the government in order to prevent the legislature from dissolving. Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique was happy to tweet: “Both Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assemblies are now secure. Instead of failing to provoke agitation and instability, the PTI should perform in their remaining governments.”
Political uncertainty will reign despite court instructions to reinstall the chief minister within hours. The political maneuverings of PDM leaders and PTI Chairman Imran Khan would benefit no one.