Shehbaz meets Alvi
in ‘strange and
strained’ atmosphere,
no picture released

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ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Wednesday met President Dr Arif Alvi for the first time after assuming the PM’s office on 11th April.

According to a press release issued by the President’s Secretariat, the leaders met at the Aiwan-e-Sadr (President House) and discussed issues related to the evolving political and economic situation in the country.

President House

According to sources, the meeting lasted only 16 minutes in a very ‘strange and strained’ atmosphere and confined to just ‘hello and hi’. The tension can be imaged that a formal photograph of meeting was either was not taken or definitely not released on PID website or media outlets. The newspaper and TV channels used their portraits to the cover the story. The meeting comes as the PTI-PML-N clash over the removal of Punjab Governor Omer Sarfaraz Cheema.

The meeting took place at a time when a news was in circulation that the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari met Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman and Sardar Akhtar Mengal from the ruling coalition to discuss the removal of President Arif Alvi through impeachment.

The former president met the chiefs of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazal (JUI-F) and the Baloch National Party-Mengal (BNP-M) here in Islamabad to discuss President Alvis impeachment.

President Alvi ‘allegedly deliberately’ avoided two important events one the oath ceremony of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on 11th April and Federal Cabinet on 19th April and Chairman Senate Sadiq Sanjrani had to administer the oath on both occasions.

The JUI-F chief, in the meeting, told Asif Ali Zardari that his party is bringing their candidate for the next president.

Asif Ali Zardari is looking to get the BNP-M chief in the cabinet. Sardar Akhtar Mengal, as a condition, asked for the formation of an inquiry commission for the Chaghi incident.

Sardar Akhtar Mengal, in the meeting, advised Asif Ali Zardari to check the numbers before making their decision. He also said the cabinet should be made in different stages. Mengal also said the coalition should stay united when making decisions.

According to a Dawn report, after PML-N leader Hamza Shahbaz was elected chief minister of Punjab, Cheema said he would not administer oath to Hamza, claiming that the Punjab Assembly secretary’s report, the high court’s instructions and “the facts presented” to him raised questions about the validity of the chief minister’s election.

Since then there was speculation that Cheema would be removed from his position by the federal government. However, in a press conference on Sunday, the governor had claimed that the prime minister didn’t have the authority to remove the governor.

“He [should send] a summary to the president because I am holding this office with the pleasure of the president of Pakistan. Until the president notifies [the order to remove me], I am holding this office,” Cheema had said.

Subsequently, PML-N leader Marriyum Aurangzeb said that the government was sending a summary to the president for his removal. Following her statement, PTI’s Fawad Chaudhry tweeted that the president had denied removing Cheema.

President Arif Alvi has also distanced himself from the newly elected government from the first day. He skipped the oath-taking ceremony of PM Shehbaz on health grounds after which Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani had taken over the responsibility.

The president had also refused to administer oath to federal cabinet members compelling the government to postpone the ceremony. Eventually, it was Sanjrani again who administered the oath to the cabinet.