LAHORE: After the Punjab Assembly was on Wednesday sealed off with barbed wires and the building’s main gate was locked, the opposition lawmakers, led by the PML-N, held a session of their own at a private hotel, with PML-N Vice-President Maryam Nawaz claiming that Hamza Shehbaz had been “elected” as the chief minister Punjab.
The legality of the session and Hamza’s subsequent “victory” was unclear as the session was held outside the Punjab Assembly and attended only by opposition lawmakers, while neither Speaker Parvez Elahi nor Deputy Speaker Sardar Dost Muhammad Mazari presided it. Furthermore, no notifications regarding the change of session’s venue or Hamza’s “victory” were issued by the Punjab Assembly secretariat.
The session was instead presided by PPP MPA Shazia Abid, who told media that she was appointed to the panel of chairmen for the 40th session of the Punjab Assembly on April 3. According to the Rules of Procedure of the Provincial Assembly of the Punjab 1997, a member of the panel of chairmen can preside the session in the absence of speaker and the deputy speaker.
Panel of Chairmen.– (1) At the commencement of a session, the Speaker shall nominate, in order of precedence, from amongst members a panel of not more than four Chairmen and in the absence of the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker, the member having precedence amongst those present at the sitting shall take the Chair.
It is pertinent to mention that the joint opposition had held a mock session in the National Assembly on Sunday after the actual session was wrapped up by NA Depute Speaker Qasim Khan Suri.
However, in a tweet prior to the commencement of the session, Maryam said that tonight’s session would have the backing of the “Constitution and law” and will not just be symbolic.
“The session of the Punjab Assembly that is going to take place presently is not symbolic but a constitutional and legal one,” she tweeted. “God willing, the PML-N is going to prove its majority.”
She later tweeted that Hamza had been “elected” as Punjab’s new chief minister by the opposition members with 199 votes.
PML-N Information Secretary Marriyum Aurangzeb shared a video of the two PML-N scions greeting and congratulating each other.
Moonis felicitates Hamza as ‘CM of Faletti’s hotel’
Reacting to the development, PML-Q leader Moonis Elahi, whose father and party leader Chaudhry Parvez Elahi is also a candidate for chief ministry, quipped: “Congratulations Hamza sahab for becoming the chief minister of Faletti’s Hotel.”
Punjab Assembly sealed off
Earlier, a large contingent of police carrying batons and equipped with shields was deployed outside the actual building of the assembly. Water cannons and Rescue 1122 vehicles were also present outside the assembly’s building.
The development coincided with the submission of a no-confidence motion against Deputy Speaker Sardar Dost Muhammad Mazari, after he said the session for the chief minister’s election would take place tonight at 7:30 pm, but a spokesperson for the provincial assembly and Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) denied the development.
Bilawal decries sealing of Punjab Assembly
Reacting to the sealing of the provincial assembly, PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari decried that the deputy speaker had been “locked out” of the assembly on the day of voting for the chief minister’s election.
The PPP chief said in a tweet: “If it takes 30 seconds to pull off a coup, it should take 30 seconds to undo a coup. Justice delayed is justice denied. After last week’s constitutional breakdown in Islamabad, today Punjab deputy speaker was locked out of [the] assembly on [the] day of voting for CM. Barbered [sic] wire around people’s house.”he] day of voting for CM. Barbered [sic] wire around people’s house.”