- Crucial Punjab Assembly session for CM election to start shortly.
- Deputy Speaker Dost Muhammad Mazari to chair session.
- Strict security arrangements made in and outside Punjab Assembly.
Punjab will once again be the centre of attention today (Friday) as all eyes are set on the crucial session of the Punjab Assembly to hold the process of the chief minister’s election between incumbent CM Hamza Shahbaz and Punjab Assembly Speaker Pervez Elahi.
The contest is expected to shape the country’s future political scenario. Ahead of the polls, Deputy Speaker Dost Mazari and Hamza arrived at the assembly. Upon his arrival, Hamza said: “God willing, we will win the election.”
The session was set to start at 4pm but could not begin on time.
The landslide victory of PTI in last week’s Punjab by-polls turned the tables around in the Punjab Assembly. However, there still is widespread confusion over the numbers of the two major parties of Punjab — PTI and PML-N — who will have a thrilling contest for the Punjab CM between their respective candidates Punjab Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Pervez Elahi and Hamza Shahbaz, the son of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.
As the speaker himself is a candidate for the contest, the session will be held under the chairpersonship of Mazari, who has sought strict security arrangements for today’s political activity.
Changes in Punjab will not affect Centre: PML-N
Minister for Railways Khawaja Saad Rafique, in a pre-poll press briefing in Lahore, said that it was not necessary that a change in Punjab will have an effect on the federal government as well.
The federal minister said that the situation was not what it seemed like as he stressed that the PML-N will “remain in Punjab and hold its ground.”
In a scathing attack on PTI Chairman Imran Khan, the PML-N leader said that the former prime minister does not wish to see stability in Pakistan and “wishes to turn it into Sri Lanka”.
Asad Umar hints at not dissolving assembly
Talking to journalists shortly before the start of the session, PTI Secretary-General Asad Umar hinted at not dissolving the Punjab Assembly after Elahi gets elected as the chief minister.
“The Punjab Assembly will continue till the current system is intact,” he told journalists.
The PTI leader said that PPP Co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari’s politics of “buying” politicians has ceased to exist as the voters have rejected the party, referring to the PTI’s victory in the by-election.
Umar added that the PTI has the numbers it needs and Elahi will win the election.
Qureshi hopes poll will be conducted ‘peacefully’
PTI Senior Vice President Shah Mahmood Qureshi, meanwhile, told journalists that he hopes that the election will be conducted “peacefully” as compared to the last one which was marred by violence.
Assuring that the party will cooperate with the deputy speaker, he hoped that PTI’s allies and the government will abide by their promise.
Qureshi termed the “auctions” of politicians embarrassing and urged the Supreme Court to take notice of the people who have sold their “conscience”.
Gandapur leads 186 MPAs to assembly
PTI leader and former minister for Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan affairs Ali Amin Gandapur was seen leading his party’s MPAs in buses to the Punjab Assembly.
Gandapur, known for his hardline attitude, counted the MPAs to ensure that the party has the right number of lawmakers and their and PML-Q’s joint candidate wins the CM election today.
The PTI said that a total of 186 — the required simple majority of lawmakers — had reached the Punjab Assembly and they were asked to remain in the assembly’s committee room.
The lawmakers were taken to the assembly in four separate buses — and were not allowed to arrive at the assembly on their own as the party wanted to ensure that none of their lawmakers went missing for any reason.
The MPAs also offered Friday prayers in the committee room.
Independent candidate announces support for Hamza
Syed Muhammad Rafiuddin Bukhari, an independent candidate who clinched PP-228 Lodhran V in the by-election and secured 45,020 votes, announced support for Hamza.
“Although I am not a member of a party, I will support Hamza Shahbaz sahab,” Bukhari said in a video shared by the PML-N.
IG Punjab, chief secretary seek transfers
In fear of PTI coming into power, Punjab Chief Secretary Kamran Ali Afzal and Inspector-General Rao Sardar have reportedly sought the transfer of their services to the Centre.
The top-ranking government officials had sent their transfer request to the incumbent government a few days back, sources told Geo News.
Their request came after PTI Chairperson Imran Khan, following the party’s win in the by-elections, warned that he remembers the name of every police and government official “involved” in activities against his party.
LHC prohibits police from entering assembly
On the petition of the Leader of the Opposition in the Punjab Assembly Sibtain Khan and PTI leader Zainab Umar, the Lahore High Court (LHC) prohibited Punjab Police from entering the assembly premises.
LHC’s Justice Muzammil Akhtar Shabbir said that the police can enter the assembly premises if the law and order situation deteriorates.
Security sought for Punjab Assembly
In a letter written to the chief secretary and inspector-general on the eve of the CM election, Mazari requested that security officials be deployed within the boundaries and inside the premises of the Assembly hall to ward off any untoward incident.
Following the requisition, the Punjab police devised a security plan. According to it, 1,400 security personnel will be deployed inside and outside the Punjab Assembly.
The police said that security officials are being deployed to ensure the proceedings of the session are held peacefully and that the protection of all members of Parliament is also a major concern.
Where do things stand?
Political analysts believe if the opposition parties — PTI and the PML-Q — win the prized slot in Punjab, the coalition government in the Centre will ultimately feel the heat, The News reported. With two provincial governments in pocket, ousted premier Imran Khan would prove to be a bigger threat to the PML-N-led federal government, hence chances of an early general election in the country.
Due to significance of the contest, wheeling and dealing by the arch-rivals continued during the last 3-4 days, and reached its peak on Thursday night, when the election was almost 12 hours away.
Ahead of the crucial election, former prime minister Imran Khan presided over the parliamentary party meeting of PTI and PML-Q. The meeting was attended by 186 members of the provincial assembly, while Mazari did not participate.
PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry claimed to have the support of 186 MPAs, the required number for winning the CM election. Former federal minister and PML-Q leader Moonis Elahi also said the Hamza government game was over, as they had the required numbers, adding that Shehbaz Sharif had ruined anyone or any institution that helped him.
Punjab Assembly number game
Pervez Elahi is now the most likely to replace Hamza Shahbaz Sharif as the new chief minister of the province after the changed situation in the province.
Almost all the turncoats who joined the PML-N and voted for Hamza Shahbaz Sharif lost to the PTI candidates in Sundays Punjab by-elections. PTI grabbed 15 of the total 20 seats in the Punjab by-polls, while PML-N won four seats and the remaining one seat went to an independent candidate.
Before the by-polls, the PTI and PML-Q had already jointly attained the strength of 173 (163 of PTI and 10 of PML-Q).
Now, with 15 additional seats, this strength has reached 188 whereas the figure of the simple majority stands at 186. This means the PTI and PML-Q have crossed that landmark.
One independent MPA will likely be part of the new ruling coalition.
On the other hand, the ruling coalition has 179 members with PML-N coming in as the second largest party in the Punjab Assembly with 164 members (four new), PPP with seven, three independents and one member of the Pakistan Rah-e-Haq party.
Two MPAs of PML-N, including Jaleel Sharaqpuri and Faisal Niazi, had resigned while Chaudhry Nisar is unlikely to vote for any of the candidates. Two seats are vacant in the House of 371 as a result of the resignation of PML-N MPAs.
Imran Khan surpasses political rivals in popularity survey: Miftah
- Miftah, Abbasi, Khokhar testing waters for launch of a political party.
- Khokar is more keen to launch the party than the other two.
- There is space for launching a new political party, they believe.
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Miftah Ismail has said that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan had surpassed all political leaders in popularity in a recent opinion poll, The News reported on Wednesday.
Miftah along with Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, and Mustafa Khokhar, who had earlier come up with the idea of seminars on “Reimagining Pakistan”, is also presently testing waters for the launch of a political party.
Miftah told The News no decision has been taken as yet, but presently they are seriously thinking on the issue.
He disclosed that they had also done a public opinion survey in July this year, which showed Imran way ahead of all in popularity.
What Abbasi said about his political future in Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and about the need for a new political party is part of the trio’s strategy to test the waters before reaching a final decision.
Abbasi, Miftah, and Mustafa are presently discussing the launch of a political party with different people besides encouraging discussion on the issue in the media and social media to assess whether it is a doable option.
Among the three, Khokar is more keen to launch the party than the other two who are not fully clear as yet whether they should do it or not.
All three, according to Miftah, agree there is space for launching a new political party in the present political situation. The question, he said, remains whether they have the capacity to attract people to join a new political party.
Through a leading entity, conducting public opinion polls, Miftah said they have also got a survey done to assess the popularity of different political parties and leaders. Their reading of the survey report made them reach the conclusion of a need for a new political party.
The three believe a significant number of voters, who are presently inclined towards Imran Khan and PTI for their rejection of PML-N, can be attracted by a new political party because neither the staunch supporters of Imran Khan nor of Nawaz would vote for any other political party.
In view of the post-May 9 difficult situations faced by Imran Khan and his party, the PTI, it is believed the new political party may attract significant voters (not the staunch supporters) of the PTI, who would never vote for PMLN or other political party in Punjab.
Among the three, Khokhar, left the PPP after the party’s leadership objected to his certain statements criticising powerful quarters. Miftah got the cold shoulder from the PML-N top leadership for publicly defending his economic solutions, which are different from that of Ishaq Dar’s.
Miftah also criticised Dar’s policies as finance minister and argued that he too was criticised as finance minister by Dar. However, his criticism of Dar’s policies has made him an alien to Sharifs.
Abbasi has started distancing himself from the PML-N top leadership for the last several months. The PML-N top leadership was keen not to let Abbasi drift from them, but the latter sounded dissatisfied with the politics of all the three leading political parties including PML-N.
Abbasi also did not show his keenness in the PML-N ticket for the next elections, while he had already declined to continue as senior vice-president of the party after Maryam Nawaz was announced as senior vice-president and chief organiser of PML-N.
On the direction of Nawaz Sharif, Maryam had visited Abbasi at the latter’s residence in Islamabad to convince him not to leave the office of senior vice-president of PMLN. Shahid had politely declined. Now, he appears to be quitting the PML-N anytime.
What will happen when Nawaz Sharif lands in Pakistan?
- Nawaz Sharif to attend rally on Oct 21, appear before court the next day.
- “Consultations being held on seeking protective bail from another court.”
- Dastagir adds that Nawaz can get nation out of difficulties even today.
LAHORE: The legal minds of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) are holding consultations on challenges party’s supremo Nawaz Sharif faces upon his return to the country, it emerged on Tuesday.
Speaking to Geo News, former federal minister Khurram Dastagir said that Nawaz will go to attend a rally at Minar-e-Pakistan after landing at the Lahore airport on October 21 and will appear before a court the next day.
However, he added, the party is holding discussions on legal matters for the intervening period between his arrival and appearance before the respective court and consultations are being held on seeking protective bail from another court [to avoid arrest].
The former prime minister has been in London since November 2019 after he left the country for medical treatment. He was serving a jail term in corruption cases when the Lahore High Court (LHC) allowed him to seek treatment from abroad.
On Monday, Interior Minister Sarfraz Bugti created a stir when he said that the PML-N supremo would be arrested upon return but backtracked his remarks following a strong response from the party.
The PML-N is preparing for a grand reception for Nawaz and plans to hold a massive rally of 1 million people in their stronghold — Lahore.
Dastagir, while responding to a question, said that the former premier had gone abroad on the permission granted to him by two courts and would enter with their approval.
“An appeal is pending before a court and Nawaz Sharif will pursue it upon return,” he said.
The former minister added that people should understand that those responsible for the corruption are those who have been doing political engineering since 2014.
“The situation was bad in 2013 but Nawaz Sharif brought the country out of the worst situation and even today, he can get the nation out of these difficulties.”
To a question, Dastagir said the 15-party coalition is responsible for the successes and failures of the 16-month government.
“PML-N’s 16-month performance is a story of pulling the country out of crises,” he added.
When asked about the reports of the formation of a new political party, he responded, “Shahid Khaqan Abbasi should have told that there is peace in Karachi today and credit goes to the PML-N.”
Referring to the spike in militancy in the country, the PML-N leader said the terrorism that is increasing today is because of Imran Khan and Arif Alvi who offered amnesty to the Taliban in 2021.
About a rumoured “secret” meeting of Shehbaz Sharif earlier this month, he said, “I do not know about the meeting in Gujranwala, I cannot deny or confirm it.”
Senate committee recommends ECP hold polls within 90 days
- Committee recommends ECP announce polls schedule at earliest.
- ECP official says preliminary delimitations will be published on Sep 27.
- About 60 days are required for filing and disposal of representations, ECP.
ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee on Parliamentary Affairs has asked the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to conduct elections within 90 days by reducing the time for filing representations for delimitation from 30 to seven days, The News reported.
In a meeting presided over by Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Senator Taj Haider, the committee also drew the electoral body’s attention towards its constitutional obligation of holding polls in the context of the National Assembly’s dissolution.
The Senate panel recommended that the commission announce the schedule of the election at the earliest to ensure clarity on the uncertainty around conducting elections.
Briefing the committee on the polls-related matters, ECP Secretary Omar Hamid Khan said the preliminary delimitations will be published on September 27.
However, he explained a period of approximately 60 days will be required for filing and disposal of representations.
He told the committee that some 91,809 polling stations were to be established out of which 49,919 had been designated as sensitive or highly sensitive.
He pointed out that out of the 49,919 polling stations, 17,411 had been categorised as highly sensitive and another 32,508 as sensitive while 41,809 (around 45%) were designated as normal.
He contended that the general election will encompass 266 National Assembly constituencies and 593 provincial assemblies’ constituencies. Moreover, he noted around 1 million polling staff will be required for the upcoming general election.
The committee inquired about the methods for the consolidation of results. The secretary of ECP said electronic devices having ECP-developed software will be used to send snapshots of Form-45 to returning officers and software was also equipped to keep track of time and place of snapshots in order to ensure the legitimacy of elections.
Regarding the use of funds for development schemes, Senator Haider emphasised that funds should be allocated to the approved schemes. The secretary ECP explained that there was no ban on development schemes approved prior to August 15.
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