In a major development, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Sunday appointed Syed Mohsin Raza Naqvi as interim chief minister of Punjab as the government and the opposition failed to reach a consensus on the matter.
In a declaration, the ECP said that the meeting, chaired by Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja, made the consensus decision to appoint Naqvi as the caretaker for Punjab CM.
ECP members Nisar Ahmad Durrani, Shah Mohammad Jatoi, Babar Hassan Bharwana and Justice (retd) Ikramullah Khan were among the attendees of the meeting.
Meanwhile, the ECP issued a notification in this regard and penned to the provincial governor about administering the oath to Naqvi.
Following the no consensus between the government and the opposition, the matter was sent to the electoral body under Clause 3 of Article 224-A of the Constitution.
ECP Secretary Umar Hameed Khan, Special Secretary Zafar Iqbal Hussain, director generals and additional DGs of the relevant departments were also among the 15 attendees of the speciation meeting of the electoral watchdog.
Khan and Iqbal briefed the meeting on the matter. The huddle decided the matter after considering all legal and constitutional aspects, the sources privy to the development said.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Senior Vice-President Fawad Chaudhry rejects the appointment of Naqvi as caretaker Punjab chief executive and vowed to launch a massive campaign against “this system”.
Reacting to the decision, Fawad said: “No other options left but taking to the streets against this system.”
He added that they rejected the ECP’s decision about appointing a “controversial” person to the key post.
Taking a jibe at the electoral watchdog, he said, “The ECP never disappointed them.”
Fawad asked the PTI’s activists to prepare themselves for a massive campaign under the leadership of Imran Khan.
Taking to Twitter, Fawad Chaudhry warned that people would “now make their own decisions”. He wrote, “[We] reject the appointment of Mohsin Raza Naqvi [as caretaker chief minister].
PTI Secretary General Asad Umar, too, expressed his displeasure at the appointment terming it a "joke with the Constitution".
PTI member and former education minister Shafqat Mahmood deemed Naqvi's selection as interim CM a "mockery".
Expressing severe concerns over the ECP’s “controversial” decision, Punjab’s outgoing Chief Minister Parvez Elahi announced challenging the appointment of Naqvi as interim chief executive in the Supreme Court.
Reacting to the decision, the CM asked: “How can justice be expected from a person who made a plea bargain worth Rs3.5 million.”
The outgoing chief executive also said that the “controversial decision” was against every rule and regulation.
Newly-appointed caretaker Chief Minister Syed Mohsin Raza Naqvi took oath of his office late Sunday night at the Governor House.
Governor Baligh Ur Rehman administered the oath to the interim chief minister at a ceremony.
Lahore-born Mohsin Raza Naqvi is a journalist by profession. He got his higher education in the United States and was associated with the American TV channel CNN during his stay in Miami. After returning to Pakistan, he served as the regional head of CNN.
According to a report, former prime minister and PPP chairperson Benazir Bhutto, who Mohsin had interviewed, was the last person she contacted before her assassination.
Mohsin founded the local media City News Network in 2009 at the age of 30 and now owns six news channels and a newspaper. He is also widely known in the political arena and has strong relations with leading political figures.
Sunday (today) was the last day for the electoral body to pick a name for the caretaker chief minister.
It is pertinent to mention here that the outgoing Punjab chief minister Parvez Elahi had proposed the names of Sardar Ahmad Nawaz Sukhera and Naveed Akram Cheema while opposition leader Hamza Shehbaz had forwarded the names of Syed Mohsin Raza Naqvi and Ahad Khan Cheema.
The matter landed at the ECP after a parliamentary committee, constituted by the Punjab Assembly speaker, failed to evolve a consensus on a candidate for the slot of the caretaker provincial chief executive.
Commenting on the appointment of Punjab interim chief minister, lawyer Reza Ali foresaw the selection to be challenged in the court. “This would be challenged, even if they have to do it for cosmetic reasons because in any event within the next 60 days, the elections are to be held and the challenge would be a fairly short one.”
The legal expert added that the ECP notifying the interim “CM seems unusual”, as according to his understanding, they neither have the power nor the mandate to “actually do that unless they received direct instructions from the governor”.
“It does seem to be quite murky at the moment because I’m not sure if a lot of law and jurisprudence have been developed on this or not,” he added.
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