- PTI and PML-Q agree to let Hamza remain CM till re-election.
- Initially, PTI, PML-Q were at crossroads over allowing Hamza to remain CM.
- Later, they agreed that he should remain chief minister till re-election.
ISLAMABAD/LAHORE: The Supreme Court Friday announced that the re-election for the Punjab chief minister’s slot would be held on July 22 — after the provincial government, PTI, and PML-Q reached a consensus on the matter.
The PTI had filed a plea in the top court seeking the annulment of the Lahore High Court’s (LHC) decision that had ordered the governor to hold the re-count for the Punjab CM’s slot today at 4pm.
During today’s hearing, Punjab Assembly Speaker Pervez Elahi — a contender for the CM’s slot — had initially agreed that Hamza Shahbaz could remain the chief minister till July 17, but the PTI disagreed.
In a bid to break the deadlock, the top court directed Elahi to speak to PTI Chairman Imran Khan and come up with a solution — as it adjourned the hearing for the third time.
After the hearing resumed, all the parties agreed that Hamza would remain the chief minister till the re-election — July 22.
In a 4-1 split decision a day earlier, the LHC had wrapped up PTI’s case against Hamza’s election to the CM’s slot, while ordering a recount of the votes cast during the Punjab chief executive’s election but with the exclusion of 25 PTI dissidents’ votes, in line with the apex court’s interpretation of Article 63(A).
But in its bid to remove Hamza from the post of Punjab chief minister, PTI had earlier in the day approached the SC to challenge the orders of the LHC to hold a vote recount on the CM poll — which was held on April 16.
The SC accepted the plea for an immediate hearing and formed a three-member bench. The hearing was headed by Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial, while Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail were part of the bench, too.
At the outset of the hearing, PTI leader Babar Awan appeared before the court while PTI’s counsel attended the hearing through video link.
Starting his arguments, Awan informed the court that all of the PTI lawmakers were not present in Lahore as some had gone to perform Hajj, while others were attending family events.
At this, Justice Ijazul Ahsan remarked that he doesn’t agree with waiting for the voting process if a member was absent.
Meanwhile, the CJP said the PTI’s plea seeks time for the lawmakers who were not in the provincial capital as they were away for several reasons — marriages and performing religious obligations.
“So why should the Supreme Court intervene in this? Does the PTI want the court to give it more time? Should we intervene in LHC’s decision?” the CJP questioned.
The chief justice said that the LHC’s order mentions that the voting would be held today. “Are you ready for it?” he asked, at which PTI sought seven days for re-polling.
The CJP responded to the request by saying that the lawmakers present in the country should have been able to reach Lahore within a day.
“How much time is required for your lawmakers to reach Lahore? Do you want Punjab to remain without a chief minister for seven days?” the chief justice wondered.
CJP Bandial asked if the CM was not in the office, then who would run the province.
Moving on, Justice Ahsan said a question remains on whether the session for re-voting of the CM will be held at 4pm today or not.
“Persuade us that the session should not be held today, then we will decide whether it should be called today or not,” he told the PTI lawyers.
He also wondered whether there was a section in the Constitution that allowed the imposition of governor rule till the re-election of the CM.
PTI’s counsel Faisal Chaudhry maintained that PTI had 169 members if the 25 dissidents were excluded.
“This means you don’t have the majority,” CJP Bandial remarked.
At this, Chaudhry said that no one in the Punjab Assembly had the majority.
Meanwhile, Siddiqui maintained that the Punjab governor should run the provincial affairs till the re-election of the CM.
CJ Bandial snapped back, saying that a by-election on 20 seats is slated for July 17.
“How can we stop the province from working till the by-election,” he remarked, adding that handing the reins to the governor would be unconstitutional.
“We understand PTI’s concern but I don’t think the province should be left without a CM,” the CJ remarked.
“Both parties will have to face difficulty if they don’t agree on re-polling,” CJ Bandial stated.
The CJ added that the court was not issuing any order to hold the Punjab Assembly session as per schedule, therefore, the session shouldn’t be started until the hearing was underway.
He said that the court will resume the hearing at 3:45pm and wrap up by 4pm as the CJP summoned Hamza Shahbaz and Pervez Elahi.
When Elahi and Hamza arrived at the court for the hearing, the CJP asked the Punjab Assembly as to what should be the course of action.
Elahi said that both sides could give a mutual decision after consultation. At this, Justice Ahsan said that “both of you should have come to the court after consultations.”
The judge asked Hamza what he had to say. At this, the PML-N leader said, “no person was unexpandable and that the country’s system should operate uninterrupted.”
Hamza said that the coalition government had the numbers and asked the court to allow the election to take place today.
At this, Justice Ahsan said that the 4pm deadline set by the LHC was up and that the judges would give a decision of their own — as the parties were not able to reach a consensus.
Responding to the judge, Hamza said that the election could also take place on July 17 — the day when by-polls take place. To this, Justice Ahsan asked Hamza whether he was ready to remain out of the CM’s Office till July 17.
The PML-N leader responded by saying that the court should decide what date should the polling take place as both the parties involved in the case could not reach a consensus.
The judges then asked Elahi what was his opinion on the matter. He told the bench that he would accept any decision that the court announces, but also sought assurances that if the polling date exceeded, then no Opposition member would be arrested.
Justice Ahsan said that if Elahi accepted Hamza as the chief minister till July 17, then all other matters could be resolved amicably.
He added that Elahi had two options, either accept Hamza as the CM or give a date for the re-election. The justice assured that no arrests would be made.
At this, Elahi agreed that Hamza would retain the chief ministership until July 17.
However, PTI lawyer Babar Awan protested against it and said that the party would not accept Hamza as the chief minister — bringing allies PML-Q and PTI to a crossroads over the matter.
The court then asked Elahi to consult with PTI Chairman Imran Khan and reach a consensus as it adjourned the hearing for the third time and went on a break for half an hour.
Once the hearing began after the break, PTI’s counsel Imtiaz Siddiqui told the court that the parties have reached a consensus and the Punjab government had agreed to hold the polling after the by-elections — slated for July 17.
The lawyer said that the parties had agreed that Hamza should remain the chief minister till the re-election.
‘Do you plan on rigging the elections?’
The CJP then asked Awan what were Khan’s directives regarding it.
He informed that Khan had agreed to accept Hamza as the interim CM till July 17 and had sought surety that the Opposition members would not be arrested until the re-polling takes place.
Awan said that Khan had reservations against the election commission and wanted assurances that the by-elections would be transparent.
At this, the CJP asked Hamza: “Do you plan on rigging the elections?”
Hamza responded by saying that he was a political worker for the last 22 years.
In response, Justice Ahsan asked Hamza to reply clearly to the CJP.
“The by-elections will be transparent; there will be no rigging,” Hamza assured the court.
The top court then finally said that the re-election will take place on July 22 after all the parties involved in the case gave assurances.
PTI had sought an immediate hearing on the plea, requesting to remove Hamza from Punjab CM’s post and suspend the process of recounting till a decision on this plea.
PTI maintained in its plea that LHC’s order should be amended and sufficient time should be granted to notify all the lawmakers to ensure their presence in the Punjab Assembly session so that a free and fair election of the Punjab CM can be held.
Referring to the objection raised by LHC’s Justice Sajid Mehmood Sethi, PTI sought to quash the notification issued for the appointment of Hamza as the CM as he’ll no longer have the majority of votes within the contemplation of Article 130(4) of the Constitution when the PTI dissidents’ votes are excluded.
In his dissenting note in the verdict, Justice Sethi had said that the votes of the 25 PTI dissidents cast in favour of Hamza were “admitted”, therefore, there was no need to repeat the exercise of counting/recounting.
The judge noted that in the 371-strong Punjab Assembly, the requisite number needed to become a chief minister was 186 votes. He went on to say that from the record, Hamza obtained 197 votes. Justice Sethi also said that after excluding the 25 votes, Hamza had 172 votes. “Therefore, he is not a member elected within the contemplation of Article 130(4) of the Constitution and being a stranger to the office of the chief minister, cannot be allowed to hold the office,” he said.
“[…] the Chief Minister Punjab may kindly be removed pending this election process due to absence of a valid notification of his appointment and that the Court may graciously grant such time and issue such direction where free and fair election to the post of Chief Minister Punjab takes place with the participation of duly constituted Assembly in accordance with the norms of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973,” the plea stated.
Sibtain Khan, Leader of Opposition in Punjab Assembly, Zainab Umair, Mian Muhammad Aslam Iqbal, Syed Abbas Ali Shah and Ahsan Saleem Bharyar have filed the petition.
CM Hamza Shahbaz, Punjab government, Deputy Speaker Punjab Assembly Dost Mohammad Mazari, Governor Punjab’s secretary and PA secretary were named as respondents in the case.
As per the verdict, the votes will be recounted and the candidate securing a majority of votes will be declared the chief minister.
Article 130(4) of the Constitution of Pakistan governs the election of chief ministers, under which there is an obligation of a majority of 186 votes.
Hamza will no longer be the chief minister if he doesn’t retain the required majority after the exclusion of 25 votes, while the second round of polls will be held as per Article 130(4) in case no one gets the majority after a recount.
“We could, possibly direct fresh election after declaring the election as unlawful but it would nullify the direction by the apex court to the state functionaries for the conduct of election in accordance with the Constitution and the decision by learned Division Bench of this Court, appointing Deputy Speaker as presiding officer and directing for the conduct of the election on 16th April 2022,” the verdict stated.
It further said that the court cannot quash the notification issued by the presiding officer as well.
Sham Idrees announces break in his marriage with Froggy
YouTube’s famous couple Sham Idrees and Froggy aka Sehar are taking sometime away from each other in their relationship.
Sham, taking it to his Instagram, left his fans in a shock after announcing his separation with Froggy. He wrote: “I would like to announce that me and froggy are taking sometime away from each other in our relationship. Please don’t involve me in issues concerning froggy, rabil or any of the other family members. I appreciate some privacy during this difficult time.”
Sham is a Canadian based YouTuber, who has a following of 1.4 million people on Instagram, is widely-known for his entertaining content. His videos often feature his wife Sehar along with him.
The couple tied the knot a few years ago and is parents to baby Sierra who is two-years old. The duo welcomed another daughter on September 28, 2022. They named her Shanaya Idrees.
After the birth of his first daughter, Sham Idrees also introduced his fans to his daughter Dua from his previous marriage.
Massive power breakdown hits Pakistan
- Minister says power generation units are temporarily shut in winter at night.
- Says frequency variation in national grid triggered outage.
- Says ministry trying to restore power in next 12 hours.
LAHORE/KARACHI/QUETTA/ISLAMABAD: A countrywide power breakdown, triggered by a “frequency variation” in the national grid early Monday morning, has left large parts of the country including Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Peshawar and Quetta without electricity.
Power Minister Khurrum Dastagir, while talking to Geo News, said that the power generation units are temporarily shut down in winter at night as an economic measure to save fuel costs.
“When the systems were turned on at 7:30am this morning one by one, frequency variation was reported in the southern part of the country between Jamshoro and Dadu. There was a fluctuation in voltage and power generating units were shut down one by one due to cascading impact. This is not a major crisis,” said the federal minister as the country plunged into darkness for the second time in four months.
The minister said that his ministry has started restoring some grid stations in Tarbela and Warsak.
“Peshawar Electric Supply Company (PESCO) and some grids of Islamabad Electric Supply Company (IESCO) have already been restored,” claimed the minister.
Talking about the breakdown in Karachi, the minister said that the matter in the port city is complicated as it has a complete electric supply system.
“We provide K-Electric about 1,000-1,100 megawatts routinely, however, it will be restored within a few hours. It is not certain how long will it take to sort this issue. However, my target is to restore electricity in the country in the next 12 hours,” said the minister.
Before the energy ministry’s announcement, different power distribution companies had confirmed the breakdown.
According to Quetta Electric Supply Company (QESCO), the two transmission lines have tripped leaving 22 districts of Balochistan, including Quetta without power.
Karachi power update
Meanwhile, K-Electric spokesperson Imran Rana said that at approximately 7:34am today, the national grid experienced a loss of frequency, affecting the power supply to multiple cities across Pakistan
“This has also cascaded to KE’s network affecting power supply to Karachi,” Rana said, adding the KE’s network is safe and protected.
“Our teams are actively monitoring the situation and enabling restoration efforts.”
An IESCO spokesperson said that its 117 grid stations were without electricity.
Meanwhile, PESCO also confirmed the outage in areas where it supplies electricity.
This is the second time within four months that a country was hit by a major power breakdown.
NEPRA takes notice
The National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA), in a statement, said that it has taken “serious notice” of the power outage and directed the National Transmission & Despatch Company (NTDC) to submit a “detailed report”.
The statement also said that the regulator has previously imposed fines on similar outages in the 2021 and 2022. It also shared that NEPRA has consistently issued directives and recommendations on tackling such events in future.
In October of last year, Karachi, Hyderabad, Sukkur, Quetta, Multan, and Faisalabad were hit by a power outage.
At that time, the power minister said that nearly 8,000 megawatts of power went offline.
Back then, Dastagir had said that the simultaneous faults in two power lines, which had triggered the breakdown, at the same time was concerning for the government. He had also announced that an in-depth inquiry was ordered and promised action.
A timeline of power breakdowns in Pakistan
The country’s generation and distribution network has suffered eight major power breakdowns during the last nine years.
In 2014 and 2017, nationwide blackouts were caused by a fault in Tarbela Power Station while fog, frequency variation and the Guddu Power Plant fault were blamed for breakdowns in 2015, 2018, 2019, 2021, 2022 and 2023.
Every time the party in power announced to conduct a comprehensive probe and vowed to rectify the issues but nothing has happened despite multiple inquiries.
Punjab ordered to issue divorce certificates to non-Muslims
- Lahore High Court directs provincial authority to frame rules within 90 days.
- Petitioner says issue is faced by many members of Christian community.
- NADRA’s Registration Policy allows change of marital status on basis of affidavit.
The Lahore High Court (LHC) Wednesday directed the Punjab government to frame, within 90 days, rules under which union councils would issue divorce certificates to members of Christian and other non-Muslim communities in Pakistan.
In many parts of the country, the divorce certificates are not issued to non-Muslims by union councils that instead claimed such certificates were “not issued to the Christian community.” This is an issue for members of the said community because, without a divorce certificate, they cannot request the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) to update their marital status while applying for the renewal of their identity cards.
The matter was brought to the attention of the LHC during the case Shumaila Sharif vs the secretary union council etc.
The petitioner in her appeal requested that the court is a writ of Mandamus — an order from a court to an inferior government official ordering the government official to properly — against the relevant union council and direct it to issue her the divorce certificate.
The case proceedings
The petition was heard on December 16 last year and the presiding judge was Judge Tariq Saleem Sheikh.
During the proceedings, the counsel of the petitioner, Advocate Umar Saeed, said that the issue was faced by several people in the Christian community and was not a one-off incident.
Citing Section 33 (1)(j) of the Punjab Local Government Act 2022 (PLGA 2022) — which mandates that union councils ensure registration of births, deaths, marriages and divorces for all the communities without discrimination — and Article 36 of the Constitution, which expressly requires the state to protect the minorities’ legitimate rights and interests, the counsel argued that by refusing to issue the requisite certificate, the council was failing to fulfil its legal duty.
Additionally, Advocate Kashif Alexander, the court’s amicus curiae on the matter, contended that obtaining a divorce certificate is a legal right that cannot be denied.
Together the two emphasise that while the Constitution of Pakistan (1973) does not explicitly guarantee the right to identity, Article 9 (right to life) and Article 14 (dignity of man) safeguard that right. Therefore, any citizen whose marital status changes due to the dissolution of marriage by divorce has a fundamental right to obtain a divorce certificate from the competent authority and then have their CNIC updated/revised.
The Additional Advocate General has little to defend the respondents and said that the provincial government was taking steps to address the complaints of the Christian community regarding the non-issuance of divorce certificates.
During the proceedings, it was brought to the court’s attention that NADRA’s Registration Policy dated 06.04.2021 (Version 5.0.2) allowed a change of marital status of a divorcee on the basis of an affidavit in the prescribed form.
In light of this, the court directed that until the provincial government framed the requisite rules needed for the issuance of the divorce certificate by the union council, NADRA shall accommodate the Christian community in accordance with the Registration Policy 19.
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