Two days after the decision of the Supreme Court on a presidential reference seeking interpretation of Article 63-A of the constitution, Punjab Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz, who was directly hit by the judgment, held his maiden press conference since assuming the charge of his office, saying he would stay on the post of CM.
“I’ll continue serving as CM as long as God wills it,” he said while addressing a press conference at the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Secretariat in Model Town.
PPP Parliamentary Leader Syed Hassan Murtaza, Parliamentary Leader of Rah-e-Haq Party Maulana Muawia Azam, independent MPA Jugnu Mohsin, Nauman Langrial of the Jahangir Khan Tareen Group, Asad Khokhar and Atta Tarar were also present on the occasion.
The chief minister vowed to continue working for the welfare and well-being of the people of the province.
In the ruling, the top court had said that the votes of defecting lawmakers will not be counted. The PML-N leader was elected to the post of chief minister with the help of the votes of 25 Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) dissident MPAs.
Hamza was supposed to address a press conference the day when the SC announced the decision but cancelled it at the eleventh hour after the decision of the top court.
Hamza’s tally was 197 against PTI-PML-Q joint candidate Chaudhry Parvez Elahi and he will lose the majority once the votes of PTI dissidents aren’t counted. If re-election is announced in Punjab, then no party will be in a position to get the simple majority. It will be decided in the run-off election that means the second round in which MPAs present at that time will cast their votes and the candidate who will get a majority will become the CM.
Since the decision of apex court, Hamza has been holding meetings with his allies, including the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP). He had held multiple meetings during the last two days to chalk out a joint strategy following the SC verdict.
Moreover, the decision of Election Commission of Pakistan on the reference filed by the Punjab Assembly Speaker seeking disqualification of dissidents is also expected on Friday.
At the press conference, Hamza said that he doesn’t have any cabinet due to the “stubbornness of PTI leaders”.
“It is a prerogative of the prime minister to forward a name to the president for the appointment of governor but he isn’t signing the summary,” he said.
“Moreover, the Punjab Assembly speaker takes the charge of acting governor when there is no governor but Speaker Parvez Elahi is not willing to do so. It is injustice to the people of Punjab that there is no cabinet in the province. We’ll waste no time in serving the people. No power can stop me from resolving the issues being faced by the public,” he added.
Responding to the press conference, PML-Q leader Moonis Elahi said that Hamza does not want to form a cabinet in Punjab as he wants to keep power in his hands. He added that Hamza is issuing directives to all departments without having any cabinet.
“We will not allow this one-man show in Punjab,” he said, adding that it is unjustified and illegal for him to remain as the chief minister following the SC’s ruling.
It would be a nail-biting contest once again if re-election takes place for the post of CM.
If 25 PTI MPAs are de-seated, the strength of the house will be 346 instead of 371. The ruling alliance will have the support of 165 MPAs of the PML-N, seven MPAs of the PPP, one MPA of the Rah-e-Haq party and four independents. The ruling alliance has the figure of 177. But, there are four PML-N dissidents and if they abstain from voting then the tally of the ruling alliance will be 173.
The opposition alliance will have the support of 157 MPAs of the PTI and 10 MPAs of the PML-Q, which will make their total strength 167. If the PTI gets back its five MPAs on reserved seats, its tally will go to 172, making the contest more interesting.