- 186 MPAs vote for Buzdar, Hamza gets 159 votes
- New Punjab CM says ‘we will break status quo’
- Hamza says he doesn’t want to rule Punjab
LAHORE: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) Usman Buzdar has won the race for Punjab chief minister (CM) bringing the 10-year reign of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) in the country’s largest province to an end.
PTI leader Buzdar was opposed by PML-N candidate Hamza Shehbaz, son of former Punjab CM Shehbaz Sharif, for the top office.
As much as 186 members of provincial assembly (MPAs) voted for PTI candidate while Hamza garnered only 159 votes.
The Punjab Assembly session was chaired by Speaker Pervaiz Elahi and PML-N’s MPAs, present in the assembly with black armbands, surrounded the speaker’s dice as he signalled the start of the proceedings.
The speaker had earlier ordered the bells to be rung for five minutes after which the voting commenced. The session had started after an hour’s delay.
The elected CM will take oath on August 20 at Punjab Governor House.
BUZDAR’S FIRST SPEECH AS CM:
Buzdar addressed the assembly and vowed to resolve Punjab’s issues.
He said, “My merit is that I belong to an underdeveloped area myself and our priority is good governance and ending corruption.”
“We will develop the underdeveloped areas of the province and sustain the developed regions,” he added,
He also said that his government’s focus would remain on good governance, elimination of corruption, and strengthening of institutions and local bodies.
“We will break the status quo,” he asserted.
He also thanked Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan for nominating him and invited positive critique and suggestions from the opposition benches.
Hamza, while addressing the assembly, said that he appreciated the democratic transition but also alleged “with a heavy heart, that the government’s mandate is marred by rigging”.
He said, “The Election Commission of Pakistan was extraordinarily empowered and it had enormous powers.”
“The Rs21 billion spent on the election was taxpayers’ money,” he added.
He claimed, “The Results Transmission System did not go down.”
“Actually, it was an ambush on democracy,” he further alleged. Hamza also claimed, “More votes were rejected than the margin of defeat in more than 36 constituencies.”
“I do not want to rule Punjab today but I do want Pakistan to become a prosperous country as dreamed by Quaid-e-Azam,” he added further.
He further reiterated the demand for formation a parliamentary commission within 30 days to probe alleged rigging in the polls, adding that “his party has become part of the assemblies with a heavy heart”.
“If the country has to progress, a probe into the rigging should be carried out,” he emphasised.
Earlier on Saturday, Buzdar was given the go-ahead by the Punjab Assembly Secretariat to contest the election following allegations that the PTI nominee had faced a corruption probe and was also acquitted in the murder of six persons in 1998 after allegedly paying blood money. Hamza Shehbaz’s nomination papers were also cleared by the assembly officials after scrutiny.
The PTI and its allies hold 185 seats in the 371-strong house, while the PML-N enjoys the support of 130 members. The PML-N has already lost the elections of the speaker and deputy speaker to the PTI-led alliance in Punjab. PML-Q’s Pervaiz Elahi and PTI’s Dost Mazari emerged victorious in the elections, respectively.
Hamza’s chances to bag the office vacated by his father had become bleak after the opposition Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) announced that it would abstain from voting for the PML-N candidates for prime minister and Punjab CM. Although the PPP has only six lawmakers in the House, its withdrawal of support to the PML-N has resulted into a severe blow to the fragile coalition of 11 opposition parties.
However, PML-N leader Mujtaba Shujaur Rehman had claimed that his party had secured the support of as many as 159 members for the election of Punjab CM.
“We need the support of as many as 161 members, our two members have gone for Hajj but the independent members are with us,” he had earlier told reporters.
Ahead of the session, PML-N’s candidate Hamza had also told reporters, “We are only taking oaths because we want the process of democracy to continue.”
“We will not climb on containers and hurl abuses,” he added.
WHO IS USMAN BUZDAR?
The newly-elected CM was born in 1969 and is the eldest son among five brothers and sisters. He is a landlord and advocate by profession.
Buzdar received his early education in his village and later went on to complete a masters in political science and an LLB from Multan’s Bahauddin Zakariya University.
Buzdar had garnered 26,897 votes from PP-286 Taunsa Sharif and defeated independent candidate Khawaja Muhammad Nizamul Mehmood in the recently held general elections.
Earlier, he had remained a member of Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) from 2002-2008 and later switched to the PML-N. In 2013, he had contested the elections on PML-N’s ticket but lost to a PPP candidate.
His father, Fatah Muhammad Buzdar, is the chief of Buzdar tribe as well as a former lawmaker from Punjab.
He had recently joined PTI along with fellow tribal leader Javed Akhtar Lund.
Moreover, the new Punjab CM and his father were booked for killing at least six persons during the 1998 elections and had been declared as offenders by a court in 2000; however, the Buzdar family allegedly gave Rs 7,500,000 in diyat (blood money) for a compromise with the affected families.
Besides murder, Buzdar was also accused of corrupt practices during his stint as tehsil nazim of Dera Ghazi Khan district during former dictator General (r) Pervez Musharraf’s era.
The 49-year-old Punjab CM paid his taxes in 2017 for the first time even though he owns assets worth Rs 25 million.
Rumpus broke out in Punjab Assembly as the opposition members staged protest after the announcement of chief minister.
The opposition leaders chanted slogans in the favor of PML-N in front of speaker’s dice.
IMRAN STANDS BY BUZDAR:
Newly-appointed PM and PTI Chairman Imran Khan has congratulated Buzdar over his victory in the elections for chief minister.
The prime minister also felicitated the parliamentary party of the PTI and allies, said a PM Office statement.
The election of Sardar Usman Buzdar has heralded the onset of a new era in Punjab, the prime minister remarked.
Soon after allegations against the PTI nominee started making rounds on the social media on Saturday, PM Khan had refused to pay heed to the allegations against Buzdar, saying the latter has “integrity and stands by my vision and ideology of Naya Pakistan”.
“I want to make it clear I stand by our nominee Usman Buzdar for CM Punjab. I have done my due diligence over the past 2 weeks & have found him to be an honest man. He has integrity & stands by my vision & ideology of Naya Pakistan,” wrote the PM on his twitter handle.
PM Khan’s tweets in defence of Buzdar come at a time when his nomination has been marred with controversy as, besides all these allegations, the party’s old guard was also unhappy with the nomination.
National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaisar has also congratulated newly-elected Punjab CM Sardar Uzman Buzdar.