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No-trust motion against Punjab deputy speaker deferred

Speaker Elahi reschedules PA session citing arrest of senior officers of assembly

The session of Punjab Assembly was rescheduled without taking the no-trust motion against Deputy Speaker Sardar Dost Muhammad Mazari as a notification in this regard was issued by Speaker Ch Parvez Elahi.

Earlier, the Assembly Secretariat issued the agenda item in which it was stated that the motion against Mazari would be taken up on Thursday April 28. Minutes before the session, a fresh notification was issued by Speaker Elahi, postponing the session for May 16.

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“In exercise of the powers vested in me under rule 25(b) of the Rules of Procedure of the Provincial Assembly of Punjab, 1997, I, Parvez Elahi, Speaker, Provincial Assembly of Punjab, hereby order that the next sitting of the 40th Session of Punjab Assembly will now be held on Monday, 16th May 2022 at 11:30am in Assembly Chambers, Lahore, instead of Thursday, 28th April 2022 at 11:30am,” the notification issued by the speaker said.

The session was delayed at the same time as news reports that police had arrested the Secretary Coordination of Punjab Assembly Anayat Ullah Lak who is considered to be the close confidant of Elahi. He was arrested at Mall Road when he was going to Punjab Assembly as there was fear that some violent incidents may take place in the house with his presence, keeping in view his close association with Elahi.

Later, the police also tried to arrest Secretary Punjab Assembly Muhammad Khan Bhatti, another close confidant of Elahi, from the premises of Lahore High Court. According to sources, Bhatti is under house-arrest under the 3 MPO.

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Soon after the arrest of senior staff members of Punjab Assembly, Elahi addressed a hurriedly called press conference along with former senior ministers of PTI government.

“The officers of Punjab Assembly are being harassed by using the police force. The session isn’t possible today in this situation and therefore it will be held on May 16,” Elahi said.

Addressing the press conference, Elahi said that Hamza Shehbaz, Shehbaz Sharif, Deputy Speaker and IG Punjab were responsible for the crisis in the assembly. He alleged that the members of the assembly were attacked at the behest of Shahbaz Sharif and police interference into the house had breached the privileges of the entire assembly. He further added that there was no constitutional crisis in the province as Sardar Usman Buzdar was chief minister of Punjab even today.

According to Elahi, they accepted the court decision regarding the chief minister election but the situation deteriorated when police attacked the MPAs inside the assembly without any justification. “Our MPA Asiya Amjad was tortured and she is still on the ventilator,” he said. He also termed the election process as illegal and unconstitutional.

“All business for election of the speaker, deputy speaker and the chief minister and no-confidence motion etc is conducted by sitting on the speaker’s chair but the deputy speaker Mazari conducted the entire election from the Visitors’ Gallery which is unconstitutional,” he said.

He further added that the Ayes Lobby was also closed for their MPAs to cast their votes as a huge contingent of police force was standing there. The speaker said that the court should tell us whether the assembly business was to be run by the police or us?

Even today, without the permission of the speaker, policemen in plain clothes were present on the assembly gates, he added. “If judges want to run the assembly, then please come and join,” Elahi said.

He was of the view that they issued production orders of Hamza Shehbaz while amending the rules of the house to strengthen the MPAs but now Sharifs were using police force against these MPAs. We made amendments in Privilege Act and strengthened the MPAs. For the first time in the history of Punjab Assembly, IG Police was summoned in the house and he had to apologize but now police was insulting the MPAs, he added.

Ch Parvez Elahi said that the Sharifs had not changed even after five years. Ch Parvez Elahi asked what the crime of Secretary Coordination Punjab Assembly Inayatullah Lak was that he had been arrested, adding that orders for arrest of Secretary Assembly Mohammad Khan Bhatti under 3-MPO were also illegal. Speaker Ch Parvez Elahi said that they [the then government] enhanced the prestige of the assembly but Sharifs humiliated them in just five minutes.

Addressing the press conference, former minister for Law and Parliamentary Affairs Mohammad Basharat Raja said that during the last three and a half years, they enhanced the prestige of the MPAs and respected PML-N’s narrative of ‘give respect to vote’. He said that still, the PML-N had not been given full powers.

“A chief minister who was elected unconstitutionally wants that he should be given powers of the province,” Basharat said. He further said that 26 of their MPAs voted for Hamza, who would lost the majority if the [26] votes were removed.

Raja Basharat said that they had gone to the court against the turncoats and the Election Commission of Pakistan had given the date of May 6. PTI MPAs Murad Ras, Mian Aslam Iqbal, Mian Mahmood-ur-Rashid, Sibtain Khan, Ch Zaheeruddin were also present on the occasion.

Later, addressing the press conference at Model Town secretariat, PML-N leaders said that the PTI and PML-Q had only 140 MPAs today and therefore Elahi postponed the session. Talking to media, MPAs Malik Ahmad and Awais Laghari, and Deputy Secretary General Atta Ullah Tarar grilled Speaker Elahi for the constitutional crisis in Punjab. They said that a request had been made to the federal government to initiate the proceedings of Article 6 against those who violated the constitution.

“The man who lost the election of CM Punjab is using the office of Speaker in this constitutional crisis,” Atta Tarar said. He also demanded an immediate session of Punjab Assembly to take the no-trust motion against the speaker that had already been submitted.

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