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Tuesday July 16, 2024

Hamza Shahbaz elected Punjab CM after 10 PMLQ votes rejected

The sitting chief minister of Punjab, Hamza Shehbaz, PMLN, won the run-off polls by three votes on Friday, and retained the provincial chief executive slot by defeating the joint candidate of PTI and PMLQ

By Asim Hussain & Faizan Bangash
July 23, 2022
Hamza Shahbaz. File photo
Hamza Shahbaz. File photo

LAHORE: The sitting chief minister of Punjab, Hamza Shehbaz, PMLN, won the run-off polls by three votes on Friday, and retained the provincial chief executive slot by defeating the joint candidate of PTI and PMLQ.

Party sources say that political wheeling and dealing by PPP Co-chairman Asif Zadrari and PMLQ President Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain — resulting in the latter sending a letter to the party MPAs directing them to vote for Hamza Shehbaz and not Imran Khan’s candidate, Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi — brought success to the PMLN candidate.

Chaudhry Shujaat’s letter rendered votes of 10 PMLQ MPAs ineffective and rejected, in the light of a recent ruling of the Supreme Court of Pakistan in connection with the interpretation of Article 63-A of the Constitution. The opposition’s candidate, Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, had bagged 186 votes, seven votes more than Hamza Shehbaz, who polled 179 votes. Deputy Speaker Sardar Dost Muhammad Mazari rejected PMLQ’s votes in accordance with the SC ruling, which said that votes cast by legislators against the party head’s directions would not be counted and such legislators would also be de-seated.

The Punjab Assembly session for holding the run-off elections was held on the SC directions. It started three hours behind its scheduled time, as reports about Ch Shujaat Hussain’s letter had created a lot of confusion in the House. Voting was held peacefully, and at the end of the vote count, the deputy speaker read out the letter of PMLQ President Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, written to all 10 party MPAs, directing them to cast their votes in favour of Hamza Shehbaz. He announced rejection of the 10 votes of PMLQ legislators, being polled against the directions of the party president.

PMLQ’s senior leader and former law minister Raja Basharat challenged the deputy speaker’s ruling, pleading that Article 63-A of the Constitution authorises the parliamentary party leader to make the decision about casting of votes and Chaudhry Sajid was the parliamentary leader of the PMLQ. But the deputy speaker said he was bound to act according to the SC ruling, which clearly stated that only the party head was authorised to decide for whom the party members should vote.

Raja Basharat insisted that it was the prerogative of the parliamentary party leader to decide about the party members’ choice of vote, adding that PMLQ President Chaudhry Shujaat was not authorised to issue such directions. Raja Basharat and Deputy Speaker Mir Dost Muhammad Mazari indulged in arguments for a while. The deputy speaker asked Raja Basharat to challenge his ruling in the court, who affirmed that they would challenge it in the Supreme Court.

The deputy speaker told Raja Basharat that he had confirmed from Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain that he had issued that letter to 10 PMLQ members of his party.

Raja Basharat told the deputy speaker, “You don’t know anything; you are misconstruing the law. How can you deprive a candidate from casting his vote? Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi is the candidate for the slot of CM, and you are depriving him of his candidature.” But the speaker declared Hamza Shehbaz as the winner of the run-off polls by a margin of three votes, and announced that the session was prorogued.

Later, the oath-taking ceremony of Hamza Shehbaz, scheduled to be held at Governor’s House at night, was cancelled and it was slated to take place today (Saturday) at 10am. PMLN leader Azma Bukhari said that the ceremony was cancelled due to unavailability of administrative staff in the late hours. She said the ceremony will now take place at 8.00am at the Governor’s House on Saturday (today).