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August 20, 2018

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N-League era ends in Punjab: Buzdar defeats Hamza by 27 votes in race for CM’s slot

LAHORE: Over 10 years rule of Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) in Punjab ended here on Sunday when Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) candidate Sardar Usman Buzdar was elected as the new chief minister of the province.

The politician from south Punjab defeated PML-N’s Hamza Shahbaz with a margin of 27 votes in the assembly. Buzdar, an MPA elected from PP-286, Dera Ghazi Khan, for the first time in his political career emerged victorious in the election for the Punjab CM by bagging 186 votes against 159, secured by Hamza Shahbaz.

The PML-N MPAs staged a strong protest before and after the election of Sardar Buzdar in the House. Out of the total 354 members of the Punjab Assembly who have taken oath so far, 345 participated in the polling process for the CM's slot.

Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), which has seven MPAs in the House, abstained and did not take part in the process, while two members, including Punjab Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi and one PTI MPA, didn’t participate in polling.

In his maiden speech in the PA, the newly-elected CM said he would ensure good governance in the province and bring about reforms in the police department. He pledged that the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa model would be followed to ensure good governance and reforms in the province.

The CM-elect expressed his gratitude to his party Chairman Imran Khan, whom he described as ‘Khan Imran Khan’ and vowed to implement his vision. He also thanked members of the PTI and allies for extending support to him in the election as well the opposition members for participating in the polling process.

Buzdar said every member of the House would be equal to CM in his or her constituency and he would move ahead while taking the assembly members along.

He said he hailed from a backward and remote area of Punjab, where no electricity was available even today. He said that not only his home constituency but also many other areas in the province were underdeveloped and backward. As the CM, he added, he would ensure that development was carried out in all such parts of the province. Besides, he said, for the areas which were already developed, his government would ensure their further up-gradation.

Hamza Shahbaz, the runner-up in the CM election, who is yet to be designated as the opposition leader, while speaking on the floor of the House, demanded formation of a JIT to probe alleged rigging in the recent polls.

H said as a political worker, he was glad to see smooth functioning of the democratic process due to which the third elected government had come into existence now. On the other hand, he said the entire nation wanted to know the reality behind the mandate of the government that seemed marred by rigging.

He said the nation wanted to know how the results of far-flung districts were completed within hours and why in a city like Lahore, results were not announced till 48 hours. He said that in 36 constituencies of Punjab, the margin of victory was less than the number of cancelled votes. He alleged that in most constituencies, the PML-N polling agents were expelled from the polling stations and were not given the Form 45.

Questioning the credibility of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), he said on the election night, suddenly the nation was informed that the RTS (results transmission system) had stopped working. He said it was a matter of concern that Rs21 billion of public money was spent on the poll process, but the RTS was not tested even for one time by the ECP.

Usman Buzdar has been elected to the Punjab Assembly for the first time and since 1970, after Hanif Ramay, Malik Ghulam Mustafa Khar, Malik Meraj Khalid, Nawab Sadiq Hussain Qureshi and Mian Nawaz Sharif, he has also become a member who has been elected as the CM after taking oath as an MPA for the first time in his career.

From the southern Punjab, the elected chief ministers of Punjab include Malik Ghulam Mustafa Khar, Nawab Sadiq Hussein Qureshi, Ghulam Hyder Wyne, Sardar Dost Mohammed Khosa and now Usman Buzdar.

Usman Buzdar started his career from local bodies in 1998 as a member of the district council DG Khan. In 2001 and 2005, he served as tehsil nazim with the backing of PML-Q. His father Fateh Mohammad Buzdar also served as member of the Punjab Assembly for three terms.

He contested the provincial assembly election in 2013 on the PML-N ticket but lost to PPP’s Khwaja Nizam and won in 2018 as the candidate of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf.

Hamza Shahbaz, the expected opposition leader in Punjab Assembly, had been elected as an MNA in 2008 and in 2013 polls whereas in 2018, after winning from both NA and PP seats, he retained the provincial one. He is the son of former chief minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif.

Earlier, the Punjab Assembly session started with a delay of more than two hours with Speaker Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi in the chair. The PML-N members, on the arrival of Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, chanted slogans of ‘Welcome Welcome, Daku Welcome’ and surrounded his chair. For the next half an hour, there was complete disorder in the House and members from both sides kept chanting slogans against each other’s leaders. However, the situation came under control when Khwaja Saad Rafique personally went to his party members and requested them to return to their seats so that the proceedings could start. The polling process continued for around one hour after which results were announced and Usman Buzdar was declared the winner.

The Punjab Assembly, through a unanimous resolution, vehemently condemned the act of holding of blasphemous caricatures contest in The Netherlands, and demanded the federal government to take up the issue with the Muslim nations and sever diplomatic ties with the country. The resolution was jointly moved by PTI members Ammar Yasir, Musarrat Jamshed Cheema and PML-N’s Kanwal Feroze.

The members on the occasion chanted slogans of ‘Ghulam Hain, Ghulam Hain, Rasool ke Ghulam Hain.’ The speaker later prorogued the session for an indefinite period of time.  

Geo News report adds: Chief Minister-elect Usman Buzdar, addressing the house, said: "My merit is that I am from the most impoverished region of Punjab." He promised to take forward the vision of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah and Prime Minister Imran Khan.

"We will develop the underdeveloped areas [of Punjab] and sustain the developed regions," Buzdar said, adding that the focus would remain on good governance, elimination of corruption, and strengthening of institutions and local bodies.

"We will break the status quo," he vowed.

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