Federal coup: Punjab governor ‘de-notifies’ chief minister

— Fawad announces to challenge de-notification in court

— Shujaat calls on Zardari to discuss ‘mission Punjab’

LAHORE/ISLAMABAD/PESHAWAR: In midst of the ongoing power struggle in Punjab, Governor Baligh ur-Rehman de-notified Chief Minister Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi through a notification issued in the late hours of Thursday, effectively dissolving the cabinet.

“Since CM has refrained from obtaining a vote of confidence at the appointed day and time therefore he ceases to hold office. Orders issued this evening,” he wrote on his Twitter, sharing a copy of the notification.

“Consequent to the facts that Ch Pervaiz Elahi, CM Punjab, refrained from obtaining vote of confidence at 1600 hrs yesterday, in line with an Order under Article 130 (7) of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, issued under my hand on 19th December 2022, in line with Rule 22 (7) of the Rules of Procedures of Provincial Assembly of Punjab, 1997, and that he still has not done so ever after the lapse of another twenty-four hours, I am satisfied that he does not command the confidence of the majority of the members of the Punjab Assembly and therefore ceases to hold his office with immediate effect,” the notification stated.

According to the notification, the provincial cabinet stands dissolved and the chief minister is asked to continue until a new chief minister is elected.

“In terms of Article 133 of the Constitution, Ch Pervaiz Elahi, former Chief Minister of Punjab, is hereby asked to continue to hold office until his successor enters upon the office of the Chief Minister,” it added.

‘ILLEGAL AND UNCONSTITUTIONAL’ MOVE

PTI stalwart Fawad Chaudhry rejected the de-notification, describing the governor’s action as “illegal and unconstitutional.” “This illegal notification issued by the governor does not impact the chief minister or the provincial cabinet in any way and the provincial government is working as usual”, he said.

Chaudhry claimed that a reference is being prepared to be sent to the president for the removal of the Punjab governor.

He announced to challenge the de-notification. Chaudhry announced the party would challenge the de-notification of Elahi in court, terming the governor’s move ‘illegal’.

Taking to Twitter, the former federal minister claimed that the governor’s step to de-notify Pervaiz Elahi was not legally binding. “Elahi and the provincial cabinet will continue functioning as usual,” he added.

DISSOLUTION OF PUNJAB, KP ASSEMBLIES POSTPONED

Earlier, PTI leaders said the provincial assemblies of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab were unlikely to be dissolved on Friday — the date previously given by party chairman Imran Khan — and that the matter would extend into January because of a constitutional crisis in Punjab.

Former prime minister Imran Khan had last week announced that his governments in the two provinces will dissolve assemblies to pave way for fresh elections.

However, Punjab Assembly Speaker and PTI leader Sibtain Khan hinted Thursday that the dissolution may be extended till the first week of January because of the vote of confidence and no-trust motion against Chief Minister Pervaiz Elahi.

On December 19, Governor Rehman had asked Elahi to take a vote of confidence by 4 pm, while PML-N and PPP lawmakers had submitted a no-trust motion against the chief minister.

In response, Sibtain had disposed of the governor’s order, saying that the instructions were “against the Constitution and Rules of Procedure”.

In a tit-for-tat move, the governor declared the speaker’s ruling “unconstitutional” and the coalition government hinted at the imposition of the governor’s rule in Punjab.

In a media talk today, Sibtain said: “We [the PTI] had to dissolve the assemblies tomorrow but this might be delayed till the first week of January as the no-confidence motion was presented yesterday.”

“Notices in this regard have to be issued first […] and the process will take a few more days,” he pointed out.

“And now that the no-confidence vote has been submitted […] how can the assemblies be dissolved?”

Regarding the vote of confidence issue, Sibtain Khan said that the governor could summon a special PA session for the vote of confidence for the chief minister, however, he could not de-notify the CM.

“Governor [Balighur Rehman] had sent a letter regarding the vote of confidence. The PA session is already underway. We have responded to the governor’s letter in writing, however, he cannot summon a new session in between the ongoing PA session as per the Constitution,” detailed Khan.

“The speaker is also representing a constitutional institution like the governor. As a speaker, it is not my duty to protect the chief minister. However, I have complete powers to enforce the law and protect the honour of the Punjab Assembly. Neither any institution will be sealed nor seized in violation of the Constitution and law.”

Sibtain Khan said that he will ask the governor to not issue illegal orders. He added that he is not sending a letter to the president regarding the governor, however, he will write a letter to the president in accordance with the law if the CM is de-notified by the governor.

To another question regarding Ch Shujaat Hussain, Khan replied that PML-Q president is a respectable person, however, he has no connection with the Punjab government. He added that the parliamentary party has powers to decide on vote in the assemblies.

KP ASSEMBLY DISSOLUTION POSTPONED

Separately, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mahmood Khan said that the PTI has decided to postpone the dissolution of the provincial assembly until the fate of the Punjab Assembly is decided.

In a media talk outside the Hayatabad Sports Complex in Peshawar today, Mahmood said: “Imran Khan will first decide the future of the Punjab Assembly.”

“Right now, consultation on the matter of the Punjab Assembly is underway. The decision regarding the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly will be taken after these discussions.”

The chief minister added that he was in contact with his party’s senior leadership. “Up until now, Imran has not given me any directions on the dissolution. I will contact Imran today but first, a decision regarding the Punjab Assembly will be taken.”

HIGH ALERT IN PUNJAB AMID CONSTITUTIONAL CRISIS

The showdown between the PTI-PML-Q’s Punjab government and the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) coalition escalated after Punjab Governor Balighur Rehman declared Punjab Assembly Speaker Sibtain Khan’s ruling as “illegal and ultra vires of the constitution.”

The PA speaker had ruled that the governor had no right to call the assembly session.

Meanwhile, PML-N leader Atta Tarar claimed that the Punjab governor had every right to de-notify the chief minister over failure to obtain a vote of confidence from the provincial assembly. Speaking to media outside the Governor’s House, he said it was the governor’s prerogative to de-notify Ch Pervaiz Elahi from the Chief Minister Office. Minister of Interior Rana Sanaullah also said the Punjab governor had the power to ask the chief minister to take a vote of confidence any time.

Meanwhile, Punjab Rangers have been deployed at Governor s House, Lahore on the order of the Interior Ministry ahead of PTI s protest call. The Centre is also mulling deployment of paramilitary forces across Punjab to maintain law and order. Sources privy to the development said Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah had directed the chief secretary and the Punjab IGP to take measures to protect the public property and ensure law and order.

SHUJAAT CALLS ON ZARDARI

Following the submission of no-confidence motion, PML-Q President Ch Shujaat and PPP Co-Chairman Asif Zardari had third meeting on Thursday and this time Ch Shujaat visited Bilawal House Lahore. The meeting was also attended by Federal Minister Chaudhry Salik Hussain and Sindh Minister Nasir Hussain Shah.

During the meeting, matters related to Punjab’s political situation, dissolution of Punjab Assembly and no-confidence motion came under discussion. A consultation was also held on future plan of action for the province’s political crisis.

According to sources privy to the meeting, CM Pervaiz Elahi was in contact with Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Asif Zardari after submission of no-confidence motion. Sources within PPP claimed that Pervaiz Elahi and the party was on same page for dissolution of the assembly.

Earlier in the day, it was reported that Punjab Chief Minister (CM) Pervaiz Elahi decided to attend a session of Punjab Assembly (PA) tomorrow after the submission of no-confidence motion.

CM Pervaiz Elahi would meet Punjab Assembly Speaker Sibtain Khan and also chair a joint parliamentary meeting of Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).

It is pertinent to mention here that a session of the Punjab Assembly (PA) was adjourned till December 23 (Friday) without any proceedings amid ruckus by opposition.

PA Speaker Sibtain Khan adjourned the session of Punjab Assembly till Friday without any proceedings. The quorum was not fulfilled and the session was lasted for only 15 minutes.

PML-Q punishes Kamil Agha over ‘rebellion’

In stunning development on Thursday, the PML-Q on Thursday ousted Senator Kamil Ali Agha, who is a part of Chief Minister Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi group, from the post of Punjab secretary general for passing a resolution against party President Ch Shujaat Hussain.

The basic membership of the party leader was also terminated, and was barred from using the party’s name.

PML-Q Central Secretary General Tariq Bashir Cheema wrote a letter to Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani and the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to terminate Agha’s upper house membership.

According to the notification issued by Cheema, Agha was removed from the post of provincial secretary general, and his party membership was terminated. It stated that a show-cause notice was sent to Agha on the instructions of PML-Q chief Shujaat.

Agha was asked for a clarification over a meeting held at the PML-Q House on July 28, after which another notice was issued on August 4. However, he could not explain the “illegal and unconstitutional” move.

Amid the power struggle in Punjab earlier this year, the party’s Central Working Committee (CWC) met with Agha in the chair and passed various resolutions.

Agha had told the media that they had “unanimously decided to remove Shujaat as the party president because the condition of his health has badly affected his decision-making power”.

He had also announced that they had decided to oust Cheema “for using the party for his vested interests and hatching conspiracies”.

PML-N OPTIMISTIC PUNJAB CM WILL RESIGN

On the other hand, PML-N hoped that Chief Minister Pervaiz Elahi Punjab will resign from his post after the PA speaker rejected the ruling regarding ‘vote of confidence.’

According to sources, the PML-N leaders were informed last night that Pervaiz Elahi will resign as he had told this to his few confidents. The governor was de-notifying the chief minister last night at midnight but then he didn’t, PML-N sources added.

However, if PTI-backed Punjab CM Pervaiz Elahi didn’t resign then the PML-N will have no option but to de-notify him, sources added.

Earlier, the Punjab Assembly Speaker Sibtain Khan wrote a letter to President Dr Arif Alvi to formally request for removal of Governor Balighur Rehman.

The PA speaker wrote to the president against the ‘misconduct’ of the Punjab Governor Balighur Rehman. In his letter, the speaker highlighted the unconstitutional steps of the Punjab government and requested to remove him.

ELAHI ATTEND SESSION

Punjab Chief Minister Pervaiz Elahi on Thursday decided to attend a session of Punjab Assembly (PA) on Friday (today) after the submission of no-confidence motion.

According to details, the chief minister decided to attend the PA session to face the PML-N and Pakistan People’s Party submitted no-confidence motion against him.

CM Pervaiz Elahi would meet Punjab Assembly Speaker Sibtain Khan and also chair a joint parliamentary meeting of Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).

In a statement, Elahi said that PML-Q and PTI are and will always remain allies. “We will jointly fight the no-trust motion and thwart every move of the PDM,” he added.

“No conspiracy can stop the ruling Punjab government from serving the people”, he said, directing the all lawmakers of PTI and PML-Q to attend the session in great numbers.

It is pertinent to mention here that a session of the Punjab Assembly (PA) was adjourned till December 23 (Friday) without any proceedings amid ruckus by opposition.

Earlier, Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) submitted no-trust motion against Punjab chief minister, speaker and deputy speaker to the provincial assembly’s secretariat.

While talking to ARY News, PML-N leader Khawaja Imran Nazir confirmed the development. He claimed that the opposition parties will give a good surprise to the people of Punjab.

He confirmed that the particulars related to the no-trust motion were received by the PA secretary. Nazir said that the no-confidence motion was submitted in accordance with the law after completing the required numbers.

The development came after Imran Khan announced to dissolve Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) assemblies on December 23.

The former premier announced the decision while addressing the nation alongside the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chief ministers (CM), Pervaiz Elahi and Mahmood Khan, respectively.

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