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Amid ruckus, PML-N leader Hamza Shahbaz elected chief minister Punjab

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  • Hamza Shahbaz becomes CM after getting 197 votes.
  • Hamza Shahbaz calls his win a victory for democracy. 
  • Punjab Assembly session was scheduled to take place at 11:30am but was delayed due ruckus caused by MPAs.

LAHORE: PML-N leader Hamza Shahbaz was elected as chief minister Punjab on Saturday in a ruckus marred session of the Punjab Assembly. 

Ahead of the vote, three PTI members of the Punjab Assembly were arrested for attacking Deputy Speaker Dost Mohammad Mazari as the party boycotted the session to elect the new chief minister.

Hamza was elected as the new chief minister with 197 votes. While his rival Pervez Elahi did not receive any votes as his party and PTI had boycotted the polls.

Hamza is the third member of his family to be elected as chief minister of Punjab. Earlier, his father Shehbaz Sharif, who is now the PM, and his uncle former prime minister Nawaz Sharif had also held the post. 

After much wait and delay due to a ruckus, the session finally started, with Deputy Speaker Mazari in the chair once the assembly’s order was restored.

The session was scheduled to start at 11:30am. However, it was delayed as government lawmakers — PTI and PML-Q — resorted to violence.

After Mazari announced the result, the session was adjourned for Iftar.

My victory a win for democracy: Hamza

Once the session resumed, the deputy speaker called Hamza to address the house, who termed his victory “a win for democracy” after the nation was kept tense for the last two weeks.

Summing up the events of the past two weeks, The CM-elect said that when the session was first summoned to elect the new leader of the house people “were attacked”.

The PML-N leader also shared that advocate general Punjab had assured the Supreme Court that the session to elect the new CM would be held on April 6 but on that day the doors of the assembly were closed and the deputy speaker’s powers were taken back.

“History does not forgive anyone,” said Hamza. He added that when the session was called for the third time today the deputy speaker was attacked.

‘Attack on assembly’s sanctity’

“We were sitting in the lobby and got to know that you were targeted. I believe this is not an attack on you but on this assembly’s sanctity. Time goes but characters are remembered,” said Hamza.

Hamza Shehbaz address the Punjab Assembly after being elected chief minister. — Screengrab/PTV
Hamza Shehbaz address the Punjab Assembly after being elected chief minister. — Screengrab/PTV

The PML-N leader said what Pervez Elahi did as custodian of the house was a violation of the oath he had taken.

“Mr speaker today the braveness with which you fulfilled your role I pay tribute to you for your bravery,” Hamza told Mazari who was presiding over the session.

The CM-elect said that the deputy speaker was “threatened every way” and for the “third time a joke was made of Constitution and law”.

“Nation was worried for 15 days and today despite all this democracy won. This is not my victory it is a victory of each and every member sitting here,” said Hamza while thanking all the parties that supported him including the MPAs of dissident PTI leaders Aleem Khan and Jahangir Tareen groups.

Turning his guns towards PTI Chairman Imran Khan, Hamza said that four years ago the Opposition had taken oath as MPAs to keep the “wheels of democracy running”.

‘Wounds of rigging’

Hamza said that earlier he had told the former prime minister Imran Khan that the nation may forget the “wounds of rigging” if his party performs “10%” of what PML-N did.

The CM-elect said that the Opposition supported the government and “was present in the assembly throughout these years despite hurdles”.

“I want to ask Imran Khan why did you promise 10 million jobs, five million houses when currently hundreds of thousands of youngsters are unemployed at the moment,” he said.

Recalling that the inflation rate was at 3-4% when PML-N’s tenure ended, he highlighted that during PTI’s tenure inflation rate rose to 12%.

“I am not saying this The Economist has marked Pakistan as the third most expensive country around the world,” he said. 

Hamza listed the sugar and wheat scams to highlight the failures of the PTI-led government.

“Inflation rose because of bad governance,” he asserted.

‘Timing is important’

Hamza took a jibe at the former PTI government recalling that Imran Khan, when he was in the Opposition, said that he would attempt suicide rather than go to the International Monetary Fund.

The CM-elect maintained that the former government created an ambiguous situation for six months, which shattered investors’ confidence, devalued the Pakistani currency against the US dollar, and then surrendered in front of the IMF.

“Countries do take loans but timing is important,” he said, adding that the PTI government was experimenting and playing around with the country.

Referring to the ruckus and violence that took place earlier today in the assembly, the newly elected chief minister of Punjab said that PTI lawmakers adopted violence and ridiculed other MPs, particularly female lawmakers.

“Is this how Pakistan will progress?” he said, mentioning that the world is a global village and Pakistan has trade ties with the European Union but former prime minister Imran Khan criticised the EU; not only that “his ego came in between the foreign policy of Pakistan.”

‘Did public elect him to become the king?’

Referring to Imran Khan’s earlier statement that he wasn’t elected as the prime minister to know about the prices of ‘aloo and tamatar’, Hamza questioned that if he [Imran Khan] wasn’t elected to know the grievances of the public then “did the public elect you to become the king?”

Amid continuous slogans being chanted by the members of the assembly, he said: “Firstly, I want to thank everybody, the members of the assembly, who elected me as the chief minister of Punjab and I also want to thank that PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif and President Shehbaz Sharif was instilling their confidence in me.”

Addressing the speaker, the newly elected chief minister said that Punjab was growing, transfers and posting of employees were done based on merit, and the chief minister himself conducted an interview of the deputy commissioner and assistant commissioner, Shehbaz Sharif himself visited places if any incident took place.

‘Conspiracy’

However, after the PTI came into power, cases of robbery and rapes in the provincial capital — Lahore — increased, 30% of the safe city’s cameras are broken, and five IGs and six chief secretaries were replaced.

Hamza further mentioned that if PTI couldn’t make a bigger plan they should have at least cleared the garbage in the city, adding that there is no cleanliness in Lahore at the moment.

Recalling the best medical facilities during the Shehbaz Sharif’s tenure as the CM, he further added that successful kidney transplants were being held in the province, and medicines for cancer patients were available for everybody; however, under PTI’s health care the patients are first asked to first bring the medicines.

Regarding his plans for the province, Hamza said: “I am Nawaz Sharif’s worker I will work day and night for the betterment of the people.”

Hamza termed Usman Buzdar’s appointment as CM Punjab a “conspiracy”, saying that if the country has to move forward, the best local government system has to be introduced in the province.

Hamza vows to restore sanctity of the House

“I am not happy that the law enforcement agencies had to come to the House; however, I commend the police officials for whatever role they played today,” he maintained, referring to the ruckus that was created earlier in the assembly today.

Hamza said: “We won’t take revenge we will work hard and if we succeed in making the lives of the people easier this will be the biggest revenge from anyone.”

The newly elected CM vowed to bring good police officers and bureaucrats to the province. “We will appoint the chairman of the public accounts committee from the Opposition and will restore that sanctity of this House,” he vowed.

Punjab Assembly session marred by ruckus

Earlier, the lawmakers of the ruling party had thrown “lotas” at Mazari and attacked the deputy speaker and pulled his hair despite the presence of security guards. The deputy speaker left the hall after this and the session was delayed.

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government contests Imran Khan and Qureshi’s exoneration in the cipher case

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On Thursday, the federal government led by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif filed a lawsuit in the Supreme Court contesting the exoneration of former Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and former Prime Minister Imran Khan in the well-known cipher case.

Citing procedural and jurisdictional issues, the Ministry of Interior has appealed the Islamabad High Court’s (IHC) ruling.

In hearing the cipher case, the High Court allegedly overreached its power, arguing that judges cannot change laws where Parliament has not expressly passed legislation.

Despite receiving government-funded legal representation, the petition emphasized Imran Khan and Shah Mehmood Qureshi’s lack of cooperation during the trial, submitting 65 separate motions and neglecting to cross-examine witnesses.

The petition contended that in order for a retrial to satisfy legal standards, the High Court should have ignored important evidence that was given during the trial. It requests that the appeals contesting the IHC’s June 3 acquittal be given a hearing date by the Supreme Court.

Case history

The cipher issue concerns a supposed diplomatic document that disappeared from Imran Khan’s custody. The cipher allegedly contained threats from the US to remove Khan from office, according to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party. Shah Mehmood Qureshi and several aides, including Asad Umar, are named in the First Information Report (FIR) submitted by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) in accordance with Section 34 of the Pakistan Penal Code and Sections 5 and 9 of the Official Secrets Act.

The then-foreign secretary received a diplomatic cipher from Washington on March 7, 2022, according to the FIR. The lawsuit claims that by manipulating the data for their own benefit, Khan and Qureshi put the safety of the country at risk. It alleges that on March 28, 2022, Khan secretly met at his Bani Gala home and gave his Principal Secretary, Muhammad Azam Khan, instructions to change the content of the cipher to his advantage, jeopardizing national security.

The document asserts that Khan still has custody of the cipher, jeopardizing Pakistan’s encrypted messaging systems and possibly helping foreign forces, which would be detrimental to the nation. A complaint has been filed by the FIA’s Anti-Terrorism Wing against Khan, Qureshi, and other individuals for improper use of state secrets and unapproved possession of the cipher.

Acquittal by the Islamabad High Court

In the cipher case, on June 3, the IHC cleared Khan and Qureshi when Justice Aamir Farooq issued a succinct ruling in their favor. Their sentences were appealed in the case, which has since been a source of political and legal controversy, leading to their acquittal.

This acquittal and the ongoing legal and political struggles surrounding the cipher case are highlighted by the government’s subsequent move to contest it.

With potentially huge ramifications for the parties involved and the larger political scene, the Supreme Court’s decision over whether to hear the appeal will be keenly scrutinized.

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Shahid Khaqan Abbasi urges political stability in order to accelerate economic expansion.

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Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, the former prime minister, emphasized on Thursday how important political stability is to Pakistan’s economic development and how the nation cannot prosper without it.

His concern was that export growth had not progressed, and he emphasized that stability in the current climate is vital to draw investments and carry out the necessary reforms.

In his criticism of the tax system, Abbasi brought up the erratic nature of tax laws and the transient nature of the most recent tax slab implementation. Insisting that difficult choices are unavoidable for economic recovery, he emphasized the necessity of designing a tax system that is equitable and does not burden the people.

Furthermore, arguing that the effectiveness of organizations like the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and National Accountability Bureau (NAB) is essential for economic governance and transparency, Abbasi urged for changes within these and other organizations.

Abbasi, in his discussion of more comprehensive fiscal plans, suggested that the National Finance Commission (NFC) award be reviewed again and that power distribution companies (DISCOs) be decentralized to the provinces.

In order to reduce inefficiencies and corruption at the provincial level, he recommended looking into ways to share the cost of defense spending and decentralize the management of energy resources.

In closing, Abbasi emphasized that Pakistan’s economic trajectory will stay stagnant unless comprehensive changes are implemented immediately. To move the nation towards sustainable progress, he urged policymakers to give stability and structural reforms first priority.

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Through in-app QR payments, Zindigi and SBP streamline transactions involving sacrificial animals.

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With its in-app QR code payment system based on Raast, Zindigi—powered by JS Bank—has elevated the convenience of cashless payments for the procurement of sacrificial animals to a whole new level for Eid ul Adha.

This program uses QR code payments to streamline transactions for sacrificed animals for the general public and traders. It is a component of the State Bank of Pakistan’s Raast quick payment service.

This feature enables users of Zindigi and users of any digital banking apps or wallets to safely and easily make payments at certain cattle markets throughout Pakistan using Zindigi QR. The consumer must scan the QR code of the livestock merchant and pay the transaction amount in order to complete the payment.

In order to further financial inclusion and digital innovation in Pakistan’s developing economy, Zindigi and the State Bank of Pakistan have partnered. Both organizations are committed to improving the efficiency and accessibility of financial services, especially on holidays such as Eid ul Adha, by utilizing the most recent developments in fintech.

One of the most important steps toward promoting financial inclusion and economic empowerment at the local level is the integration of livestock markets into the digital economy. Farmers and retailers may take charge of their financial operations and help realize the larger goal of an inclusive digital Pakistan by adopting digital payments.

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