Friday March 24, 2023

President Alvi asks PM Shahbaz to reconsider his advice about Punjab governor

Alvi says Omar Sarfaraz Cheema "still holds" the office of Punjab governor

May 21, 2022
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif (R) and President Alvi Alvi (L).  Photo: file
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif (R) and President Alvi Alvi (L).  Photo: file    

ISLAMABAD: President Arif Alvi on Saturday asked Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif to reconsider his advice about the appointment of a new governor as Omar Sarfraz Cheema “still holds the office” and “there is no occasion to propose a new appointment” of the Punjab governor.

The president was responding to the premier’s summary about appointing a new governor after Cheema was de-notified by the Cabinet Division following a dispute over the authority between the two top offices of the country to appoint a governor.

Omar Sarfaraz Cheema, a PTI loyalist, was appointed governor after Mohammad Sarwar was sacked at the peak of the political crisis last month. He triggered a constitutional crisis in the province when he refused to administer the oath to Chief Minister Punjab Hamza Shehbaz.

However, NA Speaker Raja Pervez Ashraf administered the oath to the chief minister on the directions of the Lahore High Court.

In his response to the prime minister's advice to appoint Baleeghur Rehman as governor, President Alvi today maintained that Cheema still holds the office.

“The governor shall hold office during the pleasure of the President”, as envisaged by Article 101 (2) of the Constitution, President Alvi said while referring to the President’s Secretariat’s earlier communication, dated May 09, 2022.

He said that the present circumstances demanded that the incumbent governor should continue to hold that position.

The president also referred to governor Punjab's letter, dated 23rd April 2022, and a report, dated May 4, 2022, in which it had been highlighted that the change in loyalties of the members of the Punjab Assembly, during the election of the chief minister of Punjab, and cobbling of the majority by illegal means had generated serious governance issues in the province as well as violated the Article 63-A of the Constitution.

“The principled stand of the governor had been vindicated by the recent pronouncement of the Supreme Court of Pakistan on May 17, 2022, on Reference No 1 of 2022, moved by the president of Pakistan,” read the statement issued by the President's Secretariat.

He underscored that the stance of the Omar Sarfaraz Cheema was further augmented by the decision of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), on May 20, 2022, declaring the defection and changing loyalties of the 25 Members of Provincial Assembly Punjab (MPAs) in the election of the chief minister, Punjab as the “worst form of betraying the electorate and party’s policy”.

He maintained that the 25 defecting MPAs had ceased to be members of the Punjab Assembly, as per ECP’s decision.

President Alvi 'strongly rejects' PM Shehbaz's advice

On May 9, President Arif Alvi strongly rejected PM Shehbaz Sharif's advice to remove Governor Punjab Omar Sarfaraz Cheema from office.

According to a statement from the President's Secretariat, President Alvi conveyed to the prime minister that the Punjab governor cannot be removed without his approval.

"Referring to clause 3 of Article 101 of the Constitution, he stated that 'the Governor shall hold office during the pleasure of the President'," the statement read.

Meanwhile, in the statement, the president said that the incumbent governor could not be removed as there was neither any allegation of misconduct nor conviction by any court of law or of any act committed by him contrary to the Constitution of Pakistan.

"It [is my] duty as Head of the State to represent the unity of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan in terms of Article 41 of the Constitution," the president told the premier.

Giving another reason for rejecting the prime minister's advice, he stated that he was convinced that the removal of the governor would be "unfair and against the norms of justice."