The PML-N changes session location after the closure of the provincial assembly


LAHORE:

On a day of confusion and turmoil at the Punjab Assembly, which was sealed off with its main gate closed and barbed wire atop its compound walls, the PML-N held its own “session” on Wednesday in a private hotel as vice-president of the party. Maryam Nawaz claimed that her cousin, Hamza Shehbaz, had been “elected” as Punjab’s chief minister.

However, the legality of the session and Hamza’s subsequent “victory” was unclear as the session was held outside the Punjab Assembly and was only attended by opposition lawmakers, while neither President Parvez Elahi nor Vice President Sardar Dost Muhammad Mazari chaired it.

Furthermore, no notification regarding the change of venue of the session or Hamza’s “victory” has been issued by the Punjab Assembly Secretariat.

Taking to Twitter, Maryam, while expressing her solidarity with Hamza, had announced her participation in the session with members of PML-N as well as those belonging to the PTI outgroups led by Jahangir Tareen and Aleem Khan.

The session was chaired by PPP MPA Shazia Abid, who was appointed to the Panel of Speakers of the 40th Session of the Punjab Assembly on April 3.

According to the Punjab Provincial Assembly Bylaws 1997, a member of the panel of chairpersons may preside over the session in the absence of the chairperson and vice-chairperson.

His presence on the panel was confirmed in a statement released by the Punjab Assembly Secretary on April 2.

Ahead of the rally, Maryam tweeted that the session would be backed by the “Constitution and Law” and “would not be symbolic”.

“The session of the Punjab Assembly which is going to take place now is not symbolic but constitutional and legal,” she wrote. “God willing, the PML-N will prove its majority.”

She then tweeted that her cousin had been ‘elected’ as Punjab’s new chief minister by opposition members with 199 votes.

In videos shared on social media platforms, a teary-eyed Maryam can be seen hugging Hamza while congratulating him.

PML-N leader Rana Sanaullah told the private news channel that an assembly session had also been held at the Faletti Hotel in the past. “If a majority of MPAs have expressed confidence in Hamza, then indeed, constitutionally and legally, Hamza is the Chief Minister of Punjab,” he added.

Read more: PTI files no-confidence motion against its own PA vice president

Addressing a press conference after the session, the two PML-N scions thanked the PTI splinter groups led by Jahangir Khan Tareen and Aleem Khan, the PPP and other parties for their support.

They condemned the sealing of the Punjab Assembly and criticized Parvez Elahi for his alleged involvement in the affair.

Speaking on the occasion, Maryam said Acting Prime Minister Imran had earned the title of Pakistan’s first “civilian dictator”.

“My message to you [Imran] this is what you have badly lost.

She claimed that the PTI came to power in a “disrespectful” way and also came out the same way.

“Usman Buzdar was just a puppet chief minister…the real power lay elsewhere,” she said.
“Punjab did not prosper during Usman Buzdar’s tenure…he could not build a single road during his tenure.”

The Vice President of PML-N further stated that the [the first lady’s close friend] the links with Bani Gala were well known.

“When the time for accountability came, you sent Farah Khan overseas… when she didn’t have an official portfolio, how come she got involved in postings and transfers to Punjab?”

Maryam again praised Hamza for becoming the “chief minister” of Punjab, adding that he would serve the people of the province as his father Shehbaz Sharif did.

PML-Q leader Moonis Elahi, whose father and party leader Parvez Elahi is also a candidate for Punjab’s chief minister post, wrote on Twitter: “Congratulations Hamza sahib on becoming the chief minister of the hotel Faletti”.

The development came hours after the provincial assembly received two motions of no confidence in a single day, one against President Parvez Elahi by the joint opposition and another by the PTI against its own vice president Sardar. Dost Muhammad Mazari.

However, the motion of the opposition was not accepted by the secretariat of the assembly. The PML-N no-confidence resolution against President Elahi alleged that he violated assembly rules and influenced assembly matters despite his lack of jurisdiction, as he was currently vying for the seat of the leader of Punjab.

The PTI filed a motion of no confidence against Vice President Mazari for withdrawing the order to postpone the assembly session to April 16.

After filing the motion of no confidence, PML-Q asserted that the Vice President no longer had the authority to summon the House after the motion was filed against him.

The resolution against Mazari contained the signatures of members of the provincial assembly of the PTI and was presented on the basis of distrust of him.

Speaking to the media in Lahore earlier, Vice President Mazari said an assembly session could be convened anywhere.

He added that he had consulted legal experts, who advised him to proceed with the election of the Prime Minister “immediately on today’s date”.

He alleged that Elahi and his team feared he was creating a difficult situation for them. “I exercised my authority in accordance with the Constitution because the largest province in Pakistan had no chief minister.”

Earlier during a Supreme Court hearing on the matter, Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial remarked that the vice president could convene a session in Bagh-e-Jinnah if he wanted to after learning that the staff of the Punjab Assembly were not following his directives. .

However, a spokesman for the Punjab Assembly said in a statement that the deputy speaker could not preside over an assembly session after tabling a motion of no confidence against him.

“Constitutionally, the vice president does not have the power to preside over a session,” the spokesperson added.

Earlier, a large contingent of police carrying batons and equipped with shields had been deployed outside the assembly building. Water cannons and Rescue 1122 vehicles were also present.

Barbed wire was placed around the boundaries of the secretariat. No one – including media personnel – was allowed to enter the assembly premises.

On Tuesday, Mazari moved the assembly session to elect the province’s next chief minister to April 16, citing repairs and maintenance work in the assembly hall as the reason.

However, in a development late in the night, he had superseded his earlier order and summoned the assembly to meet at 7.30pm on Wednesday.

However, this development was denied by a spokesperson for the provincial assembly and the PML-Q.

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