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Tuesday, May 24, 2022
EditorialUnending battle for the throne of Punjab

Unending battle for the throne of Punjab

The legal, political, and apolitical battles going on to grab the rule of Lahore, the capital of the most important province of Pakistan, have been on for the last two months without any legal direction. The warring parties – the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and the Pakistan Muslim League-N and its allies (Aleem, Tareen, and Khokhar groups) – are trying hard to defeat each other in one way or another. The saga began in March with the resignation of chief minister Usman Buzdar and the emergence of breakaway factions in the then ruling PTI. Later, voting for the successor to Buzdar was held in a session marked by violence. Though the voting declared PML-N’s Hamza Shehbaz a victor with 197 votes, he has not been able to take an oath to the office, thanks to a blatant refusal by Governor Umer Sarfraz Cheema, who deems the voting for the chief minister not as per law. In a fresh round of litigation, 17 PTI MPAs have filed an intra-court appeal against the Lahore High Court’s (LHC’s) order for the governor to administer the oath of chief minister-elect Hamza Shehbaz by April 28. Earlier, Hamza had sought the court’s help to resolve his oath controversy, to which LHC Chief Justice Ameer Bhatti ordered Governor Omar Sarfraz Cheema to complete the oath “either himself or through his nominee on or before April 28”. The day passed without any event. Side by side, Speaker Parvez Elahi adjourned the Punjab Assembly session on Thursday till May 16, saying the police were interfering in the assembly procedures. He substantiates his claim after the reports of the arrest of a Punjab Assembly officer. The Punjab bureaucracy, which is following the orders of the federal, has resorted to mean tactics of arresting Punjab Assembly officials, who have the least connections to any political side.
It is unfortunate that a voting process that could have been a smooth process has been undergoing legal hitches now. Punjab Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Parvez Elahi has accused Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif of attacking the Punjab Assembly premises and MPAs through the Punjab police. Perhaps, the police made history by invading the house on April 17, after some MPAs attacked Deputy Speaker Dost Muhammad Mazari. No doubt, the whole affair deteriorated with the arrival of police in the assembly. This has breached the sanctity of the House. On the other hand, Parvez Elahi should share the blame for sticking to power by illegal means. It is as clear as the sun that he has lost the majority in the house despite the fact the PTI has more MPAs than PML-N. But the PML-N managed to get several of its members floor-crossed in favour of Hamza Shehbaz. The Supreme Court has been sitting on a case pertaining to the explanation of Article 63-A, which deals with those breaching party lines. An early decision on the plea would have resolved several confusions and the fate of the side-switchers.

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