Speaker Sibtain Khan announces that 186 MPs have voted in favor of the PML-Q leader
LAHORE: After much drama, Chief Minister Parvez Elahi won the trust vote in the Punjab Assembly as the opposition boycotted the meeting in protest after raising questions about proceedings in the house.
The provincial director general took the vote of confidence after the Lahore High Court (LHC) ruled that the governor had the power to ask the chief minister to seek the confidence of the house even during an ongoing session.
The court, earlier today, had said that the prime minister should have the support of 186 MPs – the required number to be elected as an MP – around the clock.
A total of 186 members of provincial assembly (MPAs) voted in favor of Elahi as chief minister on a resolution moved by Punjab minister Mian Aslam Iqbal and PTI leader Raja Basharat.
The opposition boycotted the meeting, alleging that the requisite legal conditions were not met and that the mandate of Punjab Governor Balih-ur-Rehman’s vote of confidence was in jeopardy.
Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah said that some legislators from state benches were not in the country, but still, PTI claimed that their MPAs attended the meeting. “We will therefore present all their travel records and related documents to the court tomorrow.”
The court had granted relief to CM Elahi till January 12 (today), and will hear his petition against Rehman’s de-notification order in the morning.
After winning the confidence of the house, Elahi thanked the leaders of PTI, Majlis Wahdat-e-Muslimeen (MWM) and MPA Bilawal Waraich for supporting him during today’s meeting.
The Prime Minister criticized the PML-N for its “hue and shout” and asked the party to accept defeat. “I support Imran Khan’s vision and we have confined the thieves to their homes now.”
The head of government also thanked his legal entity for proving that the governor’s orders to notify him were “illegal. “Thank Allah I got 186 votes. Today, PML-N literally received a ‘surprise’ they did not expect.”
“There is only one leader: Imran Khan,” he stressed.
After the meeting, PTI Senior Vice President Fawad Chaudhry said that if there are no obstacles in the future, then the party will move towards dissolving the assembly.
“MPAs are lured with money
In his address to party MPs earlier today, PTI Chairman Imran Khan alleged that members of his party and its allies have been threatened to join the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).
“Our members were lured with money,” he claimed.
The ousted prime minister also claimed that Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari could not go among the masses and “came to Lahore for business”, Khan’s apparent reference to horse-trading.
“I am proud of our members from Punjab. They rejected Zardari and it was an utter failure for him,” the PTI chief said.
Khan added that Zardari should be thanked for helping to purge the party of black sheep.
Chaos grips session
Before the opposition walked out, pandemonium engulfed the assembly during the third consecutive session, with PML-N members shouting slogans against the ruling government in the province and at one point legislators even exchanged blows.
Targeting CM Elahi, opposition legislators kept shouting ‘take vote of confidence’ and stood in front of Punjab Assembly speaker Sibtain Khan.
“Get a vote of confidence today,” the members kept demanding, and then the speaker asked them to take their seats.
As the voices grew louder, the speaker said: “Opposition members must remain in their seats. Your senior leadership is aware of your protest.”
“I say for the 15th time, take your seats. Otherwise I will take action according to the Constitution,” he said warning the opposition MPs.
Meanwhile, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Raja Basarat tried to persuade the opposition to calm down.
Legislators Mirza Javed, Unaiza Fatima and Mian Rauf were asked to take their seats. While PTI members Sadia Sohail Rana, Seemabia Tahir and Sania Kamran raised anti-opposition slogans.
PML-N member Raheela Khadim Hussain refused to speak during the question break. “The governor has expressed no confidence in the chief minister,” he said while asking CM Elahi to first take the vote of confidence from the assembly.
Her speaker said the government would get a vote of confidence. “Let the supreme court decide,” he said.
“If they don’t get a vote of confidence, they won’t stay in government,” President Sibtain said, calling on the opposition to launch a no-confidence vote on a “decision”.
Members on the opposition benches then raised slogans chanting ‘dacoit, dacoit’ when referring to CM Elahi.
When the call began, the speaker decided to calm the members down. “Azan is called, fear Allah,” he said.
The political unrest in Punjab intensified last month when the ruling coalition at the center decided to remove CM Elahi in a bid to stop the dissolution of the assembly.
In his bid to oust the prime minister, the governor — a member of the PML-N — had ordered the CM to take a vote of confidence at 4 pm on December 21.
However, Punjab Assembly Speaker Sibtain – a PTI leader – termed the provision against the Constitution and adjourned an ongoing session for Friday – which resumed today.
In response, the governor disagreed with the speaker and rejected his reasoning for not calling a meeting. He added that the decision has “nothing to do” with the order to hold a confidence vote meeting.
Following this, in a notice issued in the early hours of December 23, the governor removed Elahi as prime minister, citing his unwillingness to receive a vote of confidence.
Rehman said that since he believes that Elahi does not have the confidence of the Punjab Assembly, he was barring him from the post of chief minister and also dissolving the provincial cabinet.
But PTI and PML-Q rejected the notification and moved the LHC against it. Following this, the court reinstated Elahi and adjourned the hearing to January 11.
When the LHC took up the petition on Wednesday, it said the governor, during an ongoing session of the provincial assembly, was empowered to fix a date for the chief minister to receive a vote of confidence, which the latter would be bound to comply with.