February 3, 2023

President meets Imran in Lahore amid political turmoil

President Arif Alvi (L) meeting with Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman and former prime minister Imran Khan in this undated picture. — Twitter/File
President Arif Alvi (L) meeting with Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman and former prime minister Imran Khan in this undated picture. — Twitter/File

President Arif Alvi met Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan Wednesday amid a persisting political turmoil in Punjab.

President Alvi called on the former prime minister to discuss the meetings he held with Minister for Finance and Revenue Senator Ishaq Dar and other federal ministers.

Both leaders also exchanged views on decisions taken by the PTI’s senior leadership in today’s meeting and the party’s ally, PML-Q.

Uncertainty has gripped Punjab as the provincial government and opposition remain at loggerheads over the no-confidence motion and vote of confidence against Punjab Chief Minister Chaudhry Parvez Elahi.

The PTI and Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) are confident of having the numbers to ensure the Punjab CM remain in office, while the opposition claims it could upset the ruling alliance.

Meanwhile, Speaker of the Punjab Assembly Sibtain Khan has sent a letter to President Alvi for removing the incumbent governor, Punjab Minister for Environment Protection and Parliamentary Affairs Muhammad Basharat Raja said.

The former law minister said that under Article 101(3), the president has the authority to remove the governor.

Basharat said in the letter written for the removal, the speaker has also complained about the governor’s behaviour.

“He has also pointed out the unconstitutional measures of the governor and requested the president to ensure that the governor does not take further unconstitutional steps.”

Removal at any time

The political situation is tense as Governor Baligh-ur-Rehman — belonging to the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) — had summoned a session today for a vote of confidence pertaining to Punjab Chief Minister Parvez Elahi.

But defying the directives, the speaker — a PTI member — termed the order against the constitution and adjourned an ongoing session till Friday.

Responding to the speaker, the governor, said his ruling “has no bearing” on his order.

Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah earlier threatened that the Punjab governor would issue a declaration at 4pm to remove the chief minister from office, but it did not materialise.

But later today, while speaking on Geo News’ programme “Aaj Shahzeb Khanzada Kay Saath”, said that under the Constitution’s Article 130(7), the governor — when he deems that the CM does have the house’s confidence — can ask him to take a vote of confidence and summon a special session.

“And if the chief minister refrains from taking the vote of confidence — a situation that took place today — then the Constitution’s position is clear: he will cease to be the chief minister.”

Sanaullah said, in his opinion, that since CM Elahi did not take a vote of confidence in a session that was summoned today but did not take place because of the speaker, he “is no longer” the chief minister.

The interior minister also added that it was the discretion of the governor as he can issue an order to remove the chief minister at “4:10pm, later today, and even tomorrow morning”.

PTI’s next move

PTI Chairman Imran is set to announce his next plan of action in an “important” address tomorrow (Thursday), a senior party leader said.

In a press conference in Lahore on Wednesday, PTI Focal Person for Economy Hammad Azhar said that the party would hold a “huge” demonstration outside Punjab Governor’s House at 5pm to record its protest.

In light of a trust or no-trust vote, the votes of the PML-Q are extremely important and the opposition was eyeing getting their support through PML-Q chief Chaudhry Shujaat.

However, a statement released from the PML-Q said that the lawmakers of the party have assured their complete support for the incumbent chief minister.

In a meeting — presided over by the CM and PML-Q’s parliamentary leader Sajid Bhatti — members gave CM Punjab full authority for all decisions and resolved to remain united under his leadership, the party statement read.

In this regard, addressing the press conference alongside Azhar, PTI Senior Vice President Fawad Chaudhry also mentioned that all PML-Q MPs have backed CM Elahi, the speaker, and the deputy speaker.

“We have the numbers,” Chaudhry said, noting that the PTI and PML-Q have joint members amounting to 187.

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