Fireworks expected as PA takes up no-trust motion against Mazari today

Assembly secretariat issues strict SOPs to avoid any untoward incident

The Punjab Assembly is likely to observe another chaotic and volatile session today (Thursday) that will be chaired by Speaker Chaudhry Parvez Elahi.

According to the agenda issued by the assembly secretariat, the no-trust motion against Punjab Assembly Deputy Speaker Sardar Dost Muhammad Mazari will be taken up.

But there are fears of violence in the session keeping in view the constitutional crisis that has gripped the province since the resignation of Sardar Usman Buzdar.

The session will start at 11.30am and the assembly secretariat has also issued strict SOPs for the day.

In his capacity as the acting speaker, Mazari had prorogued the last session after completing the process of electing the leader of the house on April 16.

Soon after the deputy speaker’s “role” was over, Speaker Elahi recalled the session on April 28 (today). A tug of war was witnessed between the offices of speaker and deputy speaker as the former withdrew the latter’s powers that were restored by the Lahore High Court.

Mazari conducted the elections of the leader of the house on the directives of the Lahore High Court (LHC) as the presiding officer and it proved to be one of the black days in the parliamentary history of Punjab when he was allegedly beaten up by MPAs of ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q). Both of them deny the allegation.

The house witnessed severe chaos and unpleasant scenes during the last sitting when Mazari was physically assaulted. Later, a large contingent of police entered the house to ensure smooth process of election on the directive of the LHC.

Later, Elahi submitted an application to police over the incident, claiming that an attempt was made to kill him on the behest of Hamza Shehbaz, who is now CM-elect. Similarly, Deputy Speaker Mazari approached police against PTI MPAs.

Hamza was elected chief minister on April 16 by securing 197 votes but he is yet to take oath as PTI-backed Punajb Governor Omar Sarfraz Cheema termed the whole process unconstitutional.

The matter was taken to the LHC and the LHC chief justice wrote to President Dr. Arif Alvi to nominate any other person to administer oath to Hamza. However, that could not happen and the court has now once again instructed Omar Sarfaraz Cheema to “ensure the completion of the process” of administering oath to Hamza, either himself or through a nominee, “on or before” April 28.

According to the SOPs issued by the assembly secretariat, MPAs will not be allowed to carry mobile phones while woman lawmakers have been barred from carrying handbags.

There will also be a ban on guests in the Punjab Assembly to avoid any untoward incident.

Sources privy to the developments told this scribe that severe clashes can take place between MPAs of PML-N, PTI and PML-Q as Elahi will chair the session.

“The PML-N can object to Elahi’s chairing of the session as a no-trust motion against him has also been submitted,” said sources.

Elahi, who faced defeat at the hands of Hamza on April 16, may initiate a debate over the election process.

The PML-N held its meeting at Model Town secretariat chaired by Hamza to devise a strategy in this respect, while PTI Chairman Imran Khan also chaired a party’s meeting.

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