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Monday February 06, 2023

Mohsin Naqvi takes oath as Punjab caretaker CM

By Faizan Bangash & Mumtaz Alvi & News Desk
January 23, 2023
Syed Mohsin Raza Naqvi takes oath as interim chief minister. — Screengrab via YouTube/Dunya News Live
Syed Mohsin Raza Naqvi takes oath as interim chief minister. — Screengrab via YouTube/Dunya News Live

LAHORE: Syed Mohsin Raza Naqvi, on Sunday took oath as Punjab caretaker chief minister.

Punjab Governor Muhammad Baligh Ur Rehman administered the oath to Syed Mohsin Raza Naqvi in a ceremony held at the Governor’s House. Punjab Chief Secretary Abdullah Khan Sumbal read the official notification before the oath ceremony that was also attended by senior civil, military officials and others.

Earlier, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) nominated Mohsin Raza Naqvi as the caretaker chief minister of Punjab on Sunday.The five-member ECP said the nomination was made through consensus, though the ruling parties, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan Muslim League Quaid (PMLQ), rejected the commission’s decision.

The ECP, comprising Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja and four members from the provinces, namely Nisar Ahmad Durrani, Shah Muhammad Jatoi, justice (retd) Ikramullah Khan and Babar Hassan Bharwana, had a meeting late in the Sunday evening and held a lengthy discussion prior to naming Naqvi for the slot of caretaker chief minister.

ECP Secretary Umar Hameed Khan, Special Secretary Zafar Iqbal Hussain, director generals and additional DGs of the relevant departments were among the 15 attendees of the speciation meeting of the electoral watchdog.

The ECP issued a notification, which says, “Pursuant to the proviso of Clause 3 of Article 224A of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and as a result of detailed deliberations on January 22, 2023, the Election Commission of Pakistan has unanimously decided to appoint Syed Mohsin Raza Naqvi as caretaker chief minister Punjab with immediate effect.”

According to the ECP, a formal notification had been issued and a letter written to the governor to administer oath to the caretaker chief minister.

A parliamentary committee, formed by the speaker Punjab Assembly for the caretaker chief minister of Punjab, had failed to reach a consensus within the stipulated time period, and the matter landed at the Election Commission. The chief election commissioner fixed it for deliberations and decision for Sunday at 7pm.

Outgoing chief minister Ch Pervaiz Elahi had proposed the names of Sardar Ahmed Nawaz Sukhera and Naveed Akram Cheema, while leader of the opposition Hamza Shehbaz had floated the names of Mohsin Naqvi and Ahad Khan Cheema for the caretaker chief minister’s slot.

Although Article 224A of the Constitution gives the committee three days to select one out of the four names, the delay in the notification of the panel left the committee with only one day to consider the names.

However, the Election Commission had to select one of the four nominated candidates under Article 244-A of the Constitution within two days and Sunday was the last day to do so.

Meanwhile, the PTI outright rejected the nomination made by the electoral body and announced not only to challenge it in a court of law but also launched a protest over the development. The PTI declared Naqvi as a controversial personality.

PTI Senior Vice-President Fawad Chaudhry rejected the nomination and alleged that the ECP had proved with its decision that it was the B team of PDM [Pakistan Democratic Movement, ruling alliance in the Centre].

Fawad said: “No other options left but taking to the streets against this system.” He added that they rejected the ECP decision about appointing a “controversial” person to the key post. Taking a jibe at the electoral watchdog, he said, “The ECP never disappointed them”.

“Mohsin Naqvi has been given the task of stopping elections in Punjab or blocking the path of PTI through rigging. We will challenge Mohsin Naqvi’s appointment in courts,” he added.

People’s trust in the system has been erased, he claimed and said, “We have to take to the streets for a decisive movement. People will take decisions of Pakistan under Imran Khan’s leadership. We will foil conspiracies hatched behind closed doors”.

The PTI leader alleged that the puppets had no status; they only work at the behest of show-makers. He added that people of Pakistan would do away with the puppets.

PTI Secretary General Asad Umar said appointing Naqvi as the caretaker chief minister was akin to making a mockery of the Constitution. He said the PTI would challenge the decision and protest against it.

PTI Chairman Imran Khan and his ally, the outgoing CM Punjab Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, rejected the nomination of Mohsin Naqvi. Imran, while rejecting the nomination, directed the party workers to gear themselves up against the decision. Sources said that Imran Khan, after consultation with the party legal team, was likely to challenge the decision.

The outgoing CM, Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, while rejecting the nomination of Mohsin Naqvi as CM Punjab announced challenging it in the SC. Elahi questioned how one could expect justice from someone who struck a plea bargain in the Haris Steel Mills case. “How can my close relative become the caretaker chief minister?” he questioned, terming the ECP’s “controversial” decision to be in violation of the rules. Pervaiz Elahi asked: “How can justice be expected from a person who made a plea bargain worth Rs3.5 million.”

“We will approach the Supreme Court against the ECP decision,” he added.

Elahi had already stated he would approach a court of law if any “controversial person” was picked by the commission from the list of nominees.

Mohsin Naqvi’s close links with PPPP head Asif Ali Zardari have also been in the headlines.

PTI’s Shafqat Mahmood called the decision “a mockery”, saying he was the “one man considered most unsuitable for this position”.

“This amounts to virtually handing over power to PMLN and PPP to conduct elections in Punjab. So much for free and fair elections,” he said.

However, the PDM leaders welcomed the appointment of Mohsin Naqvi as the caretaker chief minister Punjab. Former president Asif Ali Zardari welcomed the ECP decision to appoint Mohsin Naqvi as caretaker chief minister Punjab, and said he was the best choice among the four proposed names. He said Naqvi is a self-made person and has relations with all political parties.

“Those objecting to them should tell that if respected journalists like Irshad Ahmed Haqqani, Arif Nizami and Najam Sethi could be part of caretaker governments, then why Mohsin Naqvi was not suitable for this position,” Zardari asked. The former president expressed the hope that Mohsin Naqvi would soon silence the critics with his good character and ability.

Other notable personalities and politicians, including former lord mayor of Bradford UK Raja Ghazanfar Khaliq, Awami National Party (ANP) Punjab General Secretary Ameer Bahadur Khan Hoti, PPP Senator Saleem Mandviwalla, Lahore Traders Rights President Sardar Azhar Sultan, car dealers community, Anjuman Auto Parts Badami Bagh Lahore President Waqar Ahmad Mian, Anjuman Tajran Pakistan President Mujahid Maqsood Butt, Hall Road Ittefaq Group President Haji Nawaz Pappu and others also welcomed the ECP’s decision and congratulated Mohsin Naqvi over his new portfolio.

Lahore-born Mohsin Raza Naqvi is a journalist by profession. He got his higher education in the United States and was associated with 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.

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