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Hamza Shahbaz vs Pervez Elahi: Voting for CM Punjab election to begin shortly

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  • Crucial Punjab Assembly session for CM election to start shortly.
  • Deputy Speaker Dost Muhammad Mazari to chair session.
  • Strict security arrangements made in and outside Punjab Assembly.

Punjab will once again be the centre of attention today (Friday) as all eyes are set on the crucial session of the Punjab Assembly to hold the process of the chief minister’s election between incumbent CM Hamza Shahbaz and Punjab Assembly Speaker Pervez Elahi.

The contest is expected to shape the country’s future political scenario. Ahead of the polls, Deputy Speaker Dost Mazari and Hamza arrived at the assembly. Upon his arrival, Hamza said: “God willing, we will win the election.”

The session was set to start at 4pm but could not begin on time. 

The landslide victory of PTI in last week’s Punjab by-polls turned the tables around in the Punjab Assembly. However, there still is widespread confusion over the numbers of the two major parties of Punjab — PTI and PML-N — who will have a thrilling contest for the Punjab CM between their respective candidates Punjab Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Pervez Elahi and Hamza Shahbaz, the son of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.

As the speaker himself is a candidate for the contest, the session will be held under the chairpersonship of Mazari, who has sought strict security arrangements for today’s political activity.

Changes in Punjab will not affect Centre: PML-N

Minister for Railways Khawaja Saad Rafique, in a pre-poll press briefing in Lahore,  said that it was not necessary that a change in Punjab will have an effect on the federal government as well.

The federal minister said that the situation was not what it seemed like as he stressed that the PML-N will “remain in Punjab and hold its ground.”

In a scathing attack on PTI Chairman Imran Khan, the PML-N leader said that the former prime minister does not wish to see stability in Pakistan and “wishes to turn it into Sri Lanka”.

Asad Umar hints at not dissolving assembly

Talking to journalists shortly before the start of the session, PTI Secretary-General Asad Umar hinted at not dissolving the Punjab Assembly after Elahi gets elected as the chief minister.

“The Punjab Assembly will continue till the current system is intact,” he told journalists.

The PTI leader said that PPP Co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari’s politics of “buying” politicians has ceased to exist as the voters have rejected the party, referring to the PTI’s victory in the by-election.

Umar added that the PTI has the numbers it needs and Elahi will win the election.

Qureshi hopes poll will be conducted ‘peacefully’

PTI Senior Vice President Shah Mahmood Qureshi, meanwhile, told journalists that he hopes that the election will be conducted “peacefully” as compared to the last one which was marred by violence.

Assuring that the party will cooperate with the deputy speaker, he hoped that PTI’s allies and the government will abide by their promise.

Qureshi termed the “auctions” of politicians embarrassing and urged the Supreme Court to take notice of the people who have sold their “conscience”.

Gandapur leads 186 MPAs to assembly

PTI leader and former minister for Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan affairs Ali Amin Gandapur was seen leading his party’s MPAs in buses to the Punjab Assembly.

Gandapur, known for his hardline attitude, counted the MPAs to ensure that the party has the right number of lawmakers and their and PML-Q’s joint candidate wins the CM election today.

The PTI said that a total of 186 — the required simple majority of lawmakers — had reached the Punjab Assembly and they were asked to remain in the assembly’s committee room.

The lawmakers were taken to the assembly in four separate buses — and were not allowed to arrive at the assembly on their own as the party wanted to ensure that none of their lawmakers went missing for any reason.

The MPAs also offered Friday prayers in the committee room.

Independent candidate announces support for Hamza

Syed Muhammad Rafiuddin Bukhari, an independent candidate who clinched PP-228 Lodhran V in the by-election and secured 45,020 votes, announced support for Hamza.

“Although I am not a member of a party, I will support Hamza Shahbaz sahab,” Bukhari said in a video shared by the PML-N.

IG Punjab, chief secretary seek transfers

In fear of PTI coming into power, Punjab Chief Secretary Kamran Ali Afzal and Inspector-General Rao Sardar have reportedly sought the transfer of their services to the Centre.

The top-ranking government officials had sent their transfer request to the incumbent government a few days back, sources told Geo News.

Their request came after PTI Chairperson Imran Khan, following the party’s win in the by-elections, warned that he remembers the name of every police and government official “involved” in activities against his party.

LHC prohibits police from entering assembly

On the petition of the Leader of the Opposition in the Punjab Assembly Sibtain Khan and PTI leader Zainab Umar, the Lahore High Court (LHC) prohibited Punjab Police from entering the assembly premises.

LHC’s Justice Muzammil Akhtar Shabbir said that the police can enter the assembly premises if the law and order situation deteriorates.

Security sought for Punjab Assembly

In a letter written to the chief secretary and inspector-general on the eve of the CM election, Mazari requested that security officials be deployed within the boundaries and inside the premises of the Assembly hall to ward off any untoward incident.

Following the requisition, the Punjab police devised a security plan. According to it, 1,400 security personnel will be deployed inside and outside the Punjab Assembly.

The police said that security officials are being deployed to ensure the proceedings of the session are held peacefully and that the protection of all members of Parliament is also a major concern.

Where do things stand?

Political analysts believe if the opposition parties — PTI and the PML-Q — win the prized slot in Punjab, the coalition government in the Centre will ultimately feel the heat, The News reported. With two provincial governments in pocket, ousted premier Imran Khan would prove to be a bigger threat to the PML-N-led federal government, hence chances of an early general election in the country.

Due to significance of the contest, wheeling and dealing by the arch-rivals continued during the last 3-4 days, and reached its peak on Thursday night, when the election was almost 12 hours away.

Ahead of the crucial election, former prime minister Imran Khan presided over the parliamentary party meeting of PTI and PML-Q. The meeting was attended by 186 members of the provincial assembly, while Mazari did not participate.

PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry claimed to have the support of 186 MPAs, the required number for winning the CM election. Former federal minister and PML-Q leader Moonis Elahi also said the Hamza government game was over, as they had the required numbers, adding that Shehbaz Sharif had ruined anyone or any institution that helped him.

Punjab Assembly number game

Pervez Elahi is now the most likely to replace Hamza Shahbaz Sharif as the new chief minister of the province after the changed situation in the province.

Almost all the turncoats who joined the PML-N and voted for Hamza Shahbaz Sharif lost to the PTI candidates in Sundays Punjab by-elections. PTI grabbed 15 of the total 20 seats in the Punjab by-polls, while PML-N won four seats and the remaining one seat went to an independent candidate.

Before the by-polls, the PTI and PML-Q had already jointly attained the strength of 173 (163 of PTI and 10 of PML-Q).

Now, with 15 additional seats, this strength has reached 188 whereas the figure of the simple majority stands at 186. This means the PTI and PML-Q have crossed that landmark.

One independent MPA will likely be part of the new ruling coalition.

On the other hand, the ruling coalition has 179 members with PML-N coming in as the second largest party in the Punjab Assembly with 164 members (four new), PPP with seven, three independents and one member of the Pakistan Rah-e-Haq party.

Two MPAs of PML-N, including Jaleel Sharaqpuri and Faisal Niazi, had resigned while Chaudhry Nisar is unlikely to vote for any of the candidates. Two seats are vacant in the House of 371 as a result of the resignation of PML-N MPAs. 

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Parliament’s joint session has been rescheduled for April 18.

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Following the general elections on February 8, the legislative year will begin on Thursday with President Asif Ali Zardari addressing the first session of both houses of parliament.

Articles 54 (1) and 56 (3) of the Constitution were invoked by President Zardari to call the meeting. According to Article 56(3), he will speak to the combined session, which starts at 4 p.m.

The combined session, which was originally set for April 16, has been moved to April 18. For this reason, the April 16 joint parliamentary session notification is revoked.

Note that both the upper and lower houses have had their members elected in accordance with the constitution, and that this will be the nation’s first joint session after the new legislative year has begun.

Former President Arif Alvi was still in office after the elections that took place on February 8, but he was unable to call a joint session because the Senate elections had not yet taken place.

The combined session was summoned by President Zardari a few weeks after he took the oath of office and after the Senate elections went well.

Some months after Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s coalition government had taken power in the center, Alvi had already called a joint session of parliament on October 6, 2022.

On the other hand, the session was called by the then-president to commemorate the start of the 2022 National Assembly’s final full year.

Amidst the nation’s increasing political instability, the former president emphasized the need for dialogue and urged to end polarization in his speech to the parliament, which was marred by an unexpected boycott by the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N), Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl (JUI-F).

“Stubbornness doesn’t mean that a person is a Polarized person.”

In the end, the number of parliamentarians in attendance during the former president’s speech dropped down to 12 from the initial 15 people.

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In instances from May 9, the ATC prevented police from detaining Fawad Chaudhry.

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The ATC judge issued the directives after allowing Fawad Chaudhry temporary release until April 20 in four cases involving the violence on May 9.

Additionally, the police were instructed by the court to bring the case file against Chaudhry at the following hearing.

Speaking to reporters outside the court, Fawad Chaudhry expressed his optimism for a bright future after spending four stints behind bars.

Among the numerous issues Chaudhry is dealing with are allegations of corruption.

The former PTI leader was released from Rawalpindi’s Adiala Jail on April 6.

On April 1, Fawad Chaudhry was granted bail by a division bench of the Islamabad High Court, which was composed of Chief Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Tariq Mehmood Jahangiri. The case included land in Jhelum and was brought before the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

Qasir Imam, Fawad’s attorney, had previously told the court that his client was accused of accepting a Rs. 5 million bribe from a civilian.

He added that he had never seen the complainant whose complaint led to the filing of a first information report (FIR) against his client. The accusation is that the complainant bribed Fawad and his client offered him a job.

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Pakistan

The SHC is contesting Aseefa Bhutto’s election to the Nawabshah NA seat.

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Mustafa Rind of the PTI asserted in a high court suit that his nomination papers were turned down following his kidnapping.

He begged that the announcement of Aseefa Bhutto’s uncontested election be deemed invalid, and he added that a by-election to fill the National Assembly’s open seats will take place on April 21.

On March 29, the Pakistani Election Commission announced that Aseefa Bhutto had emerged victorious as the MNA from NA-207, following the withdrawal of nomination papers from the remaining three candidates.

Shaheed Benazirabad (Nawabshah), which became vacant after her father Asif Ali Zardari was elected as Pakistan’s 14th President, was held by Aseefa Bhutto in the National Assembly.

In the initial round of nomination papers for the by-election, 11 candidates were confirmed by the Returning Officer. Only four nominees’ papers, including Aseefa Zardari, were accepted after careful examination, nevertheless.

In an effort to garner support for her brother Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, Aseefa led a number of rallies during the PPP’s strong involvement in the election campaign leading up to the general elections on February 8. At a PPP gathering in Multan on November 30, 2020, she made her political debut.

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