ISLAMABAD: The family of Shehbaz Sharif, the prime minister, congratulated Mohsin Naqvi on Monday morning, hours after the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) unanimously decided to appoint the controversial media mogul as the caretaker chief minister of Punjab.
Naqvi was one of the two names suggested by Punjab’s opposition leader Hamza Shehbaz.
Extending good wishes to Naqvi, the prime minister said the appointment was made in line with the Constitution and law.
Sharif said he was pleased with the election commission’s choice, and anticipated the principles of transparency, freedom and impartiality will be upheld during the election process.
“I wish Mohsin Naqvi success in fulfilling his constitutional and public duties as president of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N),” he said.
Sharif’s son, Salman Shehbaz, also welcomed the appointment, declaring: “He is a good man and man of principle.”
Separately, in a scathing statement, Awami Muslim League (AML) president Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed slammed Naqvi’s nomination.
— Sheikh Rashid Ahmed (@ShkhRasheed) January 23, 2023
Ahmed, who made a statement via a video message posted on Twitter, said the appointment was not only a question mark on the integrity of the commission but also a “nail in the coffin” for the country’s elections.
He also criticised the 13-party Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) alliance’s attempt to suppress the decision of the country’s people, calling it an injustice and an affront to democracy.
Ahmed warned that the “people, Pakistan, and Islam will be victorious” and that those who sought to block the path of Imran Khan would ultimately be defeated.
Considered a close friend and confidant of former president Asif Ali Zardari, Naqvi’s appointment is considered a win for the PDM government.
Naqvi is also married into the family of outgoing chief minister Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi and his cousin Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain.
Despite this relationship, the appointment has rubbed Pervez Elahi and his political allies, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf (PTI), the wrong way. Fawad Chaudhry, senior vice president of the party, rejected the appointment and said the tribunal “never failed to disappoint” the opposition party.
“We reject the decision to appoint a controversial person such as Mohsin Naqvi as the chief minister,” he said while urging party workers to prepare for mass-scale protests led by their leader Imran Khan.
“Appointing Naqvi as the caretaker chief minister is making a mockery of the Constitution. The PTI will challenge the decision and protest against it,” said Asad Umar, the party’s general secretary, in a tweet.
Pervez Elahi also brought up his own relationship with Naqvi, saying “how can a person I am related to be appointed caretaker chief minister? We will approach the Supreme Court regarding the ECP’s decision,” he tweeted, also recalling that Naqvi had struck a plea bargain in a graft case.