The Punjab Assembly (PA) session, which was set to start at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday to elect a new chief minister, has been postponed after PTI lawmakers assaulted Deputy Speaker Dost Mohammad Mazari as he arrived to preside over the meeting.
Members of the treasury benches attacked Deputy Speaker Sardar Dost Muhammad Mazari as he entered the assembly, throwing lotas at him and attempting to circle him. Assembly guards escorted Mazari to his chamber right away.
Both parties chanted slogans, and members of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) threw lotas at the opposition benches. Inside the legislature, PTI lawmakers created a ruckus by lashing out at dissident PTI MPAs who have decided to support the opposition.
The top spot is expected to be contested by Parvez Elahi of the ruling coalition (PMLQ and PTI) and Hamza Shehbaz of the PML-N, who is the joint opposition’s candidate. Both candidates have arrived at the PA, along with their supporters.
Elahi is the current speaker of the house, but he is unable to preside over the session because he is a candidate for chief minister.
Before and after the chief minister’s election, extensive security arrangements have been made in and around the assembly to prevent any untoward incidents. Police have also been assisted by paramilitary Rangers.
The session on April 16 is being held in accordance with the Lahore High Court’s (LHC) Wednesday order, which rejected Hamza’s request for early elections and restored the deputy speaker’s powers. The court has asked the deputy speaker, whose powers were revoked last week, to hold the election on April 16.
Since ex-governor Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar — who was removed from his position last week — accepted Usman Buzdar’s resignation on April 1, the CM’s office has been vacant for nearly two weeks.
The joint opposition claims to have 200 members behind it and believes it will win the CM election. To become the chief minister of the House of 371, Hamza Shahbaz needs the support of 186 members.
‘A free and fair election’ is a phrase used to describe a democratic election.
Mazari told journalists ahead of the proceedings that he would make sure the elections were “fair and transparent.” “I’ve given media members access to the assembly so they can observe how the proceedings are conducted,” he explained.
There may be attempts to further delay the vote, but the deputy speaker stated, “Remember, I won’t take pressure, but I will give it.” He revealed that everyone, including defector MPAs, would be allowed to vote in today’s session.
“Defectors will be allowed to vote under Article 63-A.” “The party chief will see what needs to be done with them after the session,” the deputy speaker added.
‘Intentions are hazy.’
Elahi told journalists after arriving at the assembly that, despite being the speaker, he was not the custodian of the house today because he is a candidate for the position of chief minister.
“Time will tell whether the deputy speaker was telling the truth or not […] we will try to hold a transparent election today,” Elahi said, adding that he knows where Dost Mohammad Mazari is getting his orders from and will share more information when the time comes.
He claimed to have the numbers to win the election and claimed that some people did not have clear intentions.
The game of numbers
A candidate for chief minister would need at least 186 votes in the 371-member house to be elected. PTI has 183 lawmakers in the Punjab Assembly, PML-Q has 10, PML-N has 165, PPP has seven, five are independent, and one belongs to Rah-i-Haq.
The support of dissident PTI lawmakers from the Jahangir Tarin and Aleem Khan groups, which have around 24 lawmakers, is expected to be the deciding factor in the election.
Representatives from both parties have already stated their support for opposition candidate Hamza Shehbaz for the position of chief minister.