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Hamza Shehbaz takes oath as Punjab chief minister

Lashes out at Parvez Elahi for destroying constitution, Punjab governor for flouting court orders

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Vice President Hamza Shahbaz finally took oath as the Punjab chief minister in a ceremony held at the Governor’s House, Lahore on Saturday.

National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf administered the oath to Hamza on the directives of the Lahore High Court, making Hamza the 21st chief minister of Punjab.

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The oath-taking ceremony was also attended by PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz, federal ministers Rana Sanaullah, Rana Tanveer, Mian Javed Latif and a large number of PML-N and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) workers. The Punjab chief secretary and inspector general were also present amidst tight security.

Talking to the media after taking oath, Hamza said that he was a worker of Nawaz Sharif, Shehbaz Sharif and the PML-N, and he was thankful to all of them for nominating him for this office.

“Punjab was facing severe constitutional crisis for the last one month and everyone saw a circus in the Punjab Assembly, where its Speaker Parvez Elahi destroyed the law and constitution,” Hamza said. The PTI-backed Punjab governor also mocked the constitution and refused to obey the court orders, he said.

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Hamza said that Pakistan could become a banana republic had the Supreme Court not opened at midnight. First, a game was played in the centre, and then it came to Punjab – the largest province of the country, he said.

“What was the mistake of 120 million people of Punjab that they couldn’t get their chief executive for a month?” Hamza questioned. Talking about his future plans, he said that his government would move forward with the support of allies and would serve the people of the province.

PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz admitted that the government had huge challenges, but their intention to serve the people was much greater than the problems.

“We’ll give maximum relief to people and you will see the difference soon,” Maryam said while talking to journalists at the Governor’s House. She was of the view that all those who made a mockery of the constitution and the court should be put behind the bars.

A large number of PML-N workers kept chanting slogans in favour of the new Punjab chief minister throughout the ceremony at the Governor’s House.

After assuming the charge of his office, Hamza was presented a guard of honour at the CM’s office by the police band. He also received a briefing from the chief secretary and Punjab Police IG on the situation of law and order in the province.

Later, Hamza went to Data Darbar to pay homage. He also visited Jahangir Khan Tareen at his residence to pay his gratitude to the PTI dissident leader for supporting him in the election of the Punjab CM.

Addressing a press conference at the Punjab Assembly, former senior ministers of the PTI-led government refused to accept Hamza as the chief minister. Talking to the media, Raja Basharat, who claimed that he still was the minister for law and parliamentary affairs, said that the Punjab governor had restored CM Buzdar and his cabinet.

“After the issuance of the governor’s notification, the oath of Hamza has no constitutional status and there is no mention in the constitution that National Assembly speaker will administer the oath to Punjab CM,” Basharat said. He added that a larger bench had been constituted by the Lahore High Court on the issue.

“Where is your slogan of respect to vote today, as you became the CM with the votes of our 26 dissident MPAs?” Raja said. He said it was shameful that Hamza became the CM with “our mandate” and Saturday’s oath proved that the respect to vote had been buried.

He was of the view that Hamza did not have a majority in the house, as he would lose it once the decision against the dissidents comes on May 6. He added that the PML-N was a fascist party and it occupied the Governor’s House through its goons and misused it. He also claimed that the cabinet could not take oath from any person except the Punjab governor.

According to reports, Hamza has started finalising picks for his cabinet. The PPP is likely to get two ministries in the new set-up.

PML-N’s Malik Muhammad Khan, Khawaja Salman Rafique, Imran Nazir, Saiful Malook Khokhar, Rana Mashood, Mansha Ali Butt and other senior leaders are being considered for key positions.

Two PPP lawmakers, including Hassan Murtaza, are being considered for positions in the provincial cabinet.

Meanwhile, PTI leader Chaudhry Fawad Hussain called for immediate termination of Hamza’s oath, urging the chief justice of Pakistan to stop the constitutional crisis before it deepens further.

“I strongly condemn the illegal occupation of Governor House Lahore. In this regard, the provincial administration has clearly violated the constitution and the law,” Fawad said in a tweet, while demanding immediate termination of the oath.

The former information minister urged the CJ to step in and take notice of the constitutional crisis in Punjab, adding the matter pertaining to the “illegal oath” should be adjudicated upon after listening to all parties.

On the other hand, Federal Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb said the hue and cry would not alter the fact that Hamza had finally taken over as the chief minister.

“Alhamdulillah, prison doors will be opened for only those who resorted to hooliganism against the constitution, parliament and courts,” she said in a tweet in Urdu. She said it was possible to listen to a party but “not thugs and violators of the constitution”.



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