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EditorialPunjab crisis 

Punjab crisis 

After back to back verdicts by the Lahore High Court (LHC) and the Supreme Court (SC), the crisis in the Punjab government is settled for now or at least till July 22, the new date set for the run-off election for the Punjab chief minister slot. But underneath, political tensions in Punjab refuse to fade away as the provincial assembly has been unable to perform its due functions, which in turn affects the working of the government not only in Punjab but in the whole Pakistan. The situation may continue till July 17, the day of by-elections for 20 seats in the constituencies of the deseated MPAs across Punjab. Moreover, the notification of the five MPAs of reserved seats has yet to be issued by the Election Commission of Pakistan. The whole fiasco started with a PTI’s petition challenging the election of Hamza Shehbaz as chief minister on April 16 in the Lahore High Court and after nearly two and a half months of hearing, a five-member larger bench, headed by Justice Sadaqat Ali Khan, partially granted the petitions. It has ordered a recount of votes in connection with the April 16 chief ministerial election without adding the votes of dissident members. The verdict provides protection to actions by the chief minister and his cabinet. According to the bench, if new elections are called, it would be a rejection of the Supreme Court order. The decision said that if Hamza Shehbaz could not get the required majority to become the chief minister, re-election should be held under Article 130 (4) unless any candidate for the post gets a majority. The decision emphasized that the session of the Punjab Assembly would not be adjourned till the election process did not complete and the presiding officer informed the governor about the result of the elected chief minister. Under the constitution, the governor will take the oath of office of the newly-elected chief minister the next day. This decision of the Supreme Court should remove all doubts about the political situation in the province which has been creating uncertainty among the people for the last three and a half months.

Punjab is home to the largest population in all the provinces and is the centre of national politics. The successful no-confidence motion tabled by the PDM with the PPP in the federation and Punjab came to a logical conclusion but only after the interventions of the courts, and now all the parliamentary norms have been at stake for the last three months in the Punjab Assembly. Both the opposition and the treasury held their sessions at different places, and for the first time in the history of the country, two budget meetings were held and instead of the elected representatives representing their constituencies, they seemed to be engaged in political tensions. Local body elections have been held in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan and Sindh, but due to the violent  political situation in Punjab, basic issues seem to be getting more complicated. Permanent political confrontation is in the interest of the country and the nation. In light of the decision of courts, it would be better for the political parties to be flexible in their attitudes and put the national interest above their party and personal interests.

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