With rising tensions and intense tensions, political acuity In the midst of rising political tensions, the Punjab Assembly will head back for a vote next the Friday (today) to choose the new head of the house – as well as the capital of the nation’s politics as directed by the Supreme Court to settle the dust of the long-drawn-out controversy that was triggered by the ‘disputed electoral results of the Chief Minister, Hamza Shehbaz earlier in the year.
As per the plan that was formulated by the apex court in accordance with the recipe ordered by the apex court, the run-off being held five days following the by-polls of 20 seats which became vacant following the exclusion of PTI defections who voted for Hamza in a newly and reconstituted House with a new electoral college.
The PML-Q’s Pervaiz Elahi – PTI’s candidate and the incumbent chief minister are now vying to be the next chief minister.
The political landscape that is tensely contested is abuzz with events which range from parleys that purport to snare lawmakers both sides of the fence, to a rush of meetings between powerful politicians and the desperate attempt to provide an “last-minute surprise” to the opposition. However, both the PTI-PMLQ alliance and the PMLN-led administration have played up a brave image.
But it is believed that the stars appear to be aligned for PTI which, following winning its first examination of its power during this year’s Punjab by-polls, is now entering the final phase of plans to take over the control of the province that it lost in a controversial chief-minister’s election.
If it emerges the victor of today’s race the PTI of Imran Khan PTI will be able to gain the political power it has sought to thwart their power rivals within the Centre and open the way for a return to Islamabad.
On the contrary as a way to keep the seemingly shifting ground PML-N’s ruling PML-N has become more aggressive in its efforts to explore every option in its rapidly shrinking space to save the Hamza-led government that was permitted by the Supreme Court to remain in place until the crucial elections of today.
A possible defeat could have the PMLN waiting for the next shoe to fall – an effect that could be a domino in Islamabad where the current chief minister’s father, the Prime Secretary Shehbaz Sharif, keeps watch on the state’s politics with great anticipation.
It is interesting to note that a heated battle in the past year had morphed to a crisis of constitutionality that resulted in Punjab in limbo, with no efficient government.
With around 186 members the PTI has a majority of the 371-seat legislature. Prior to the PA by-polls, the other parties of the two parties – PTI (158 MPAs) and PMLQ (10 MPAs) together had a total of just 168.
After the ECP’s announcement on five seats reserved The number grew to 173. The number grew after it gained seats in the by-elections.
The PML-N, after winning four seats at the by-elections is now a strong 180.
Imran cautions about manipulation’
Fearful of manipulation due to the brutal tactics employed of the ruling party to keep its grip on Province, PTI leader Imran Khan fired a shot of warning, averting the “state institutions” against any attempt to alter the results of elections, as “the people will not have control”.
“Don’t believe for a second that people are going to sit at a distance in the event that the election results are manipulated,” he said while speaking to his supporters via a the video on Thursday. “I would like to emphasize that PTI will not allow the fraud on the vote of the people using their own money,” he said.
The former prime minister was accused by his political rivals of using money to purchase loyalty prior to the crucial election.
According to him, efforts are being made to intimidate the PTI’s lawmakers in order to stop them from taking part in the elections.
He then went on to state that every tactic is employed to ensure it is the PTI will be defeated at the Punjab by-polls.
The former premier has also come out strongly against the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) in a statement that he doesn’t trust the current chief election officer. “We will not be running for the next general election with this guy as our chief election officer.”
He rejected any chance of transparent elections , with the present CEC as the chairman.
Imran was also critical of the ECP for putting off by-elections and local body elections in Sindh “over the mere reason of rain”.
The chief electoral body to task in its refusal to support computerized voting systems, claiming it was opposed to the technology more then it did the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM).
Expected to succeed Hamza Shehbaz as Punjab’s chief executive after he has conquered the ‘citadel’ of Sharifs The top leaders from both PTI as well as PML-Q PML-Q are instructing their legislators to remain in the capital of the province and not move out of it.
Additionally, the parties asked their provincial assembly to be present on the day of their choosing without failing.
The PTI-PMLQ alliance has the magic number
The members of the PTI-PMLQ alliance claimed that they are composed of 186 members – a magical number that indicates that the majority of the House and also said that there was an “big unexpected surprise” in the form of CM Hamza Shehbaz.
The PTI along with its main allies, the PML-Q, hosted the parliamentary session of the party at an hotel in Lahore the city of Lahore, where PTI Vice-President Fawad Chaudhry said that the presence of all 186 party members.
It was attended by Imran Khan, the party’s chief of staff.
Fawad said that the opposition had gathered the support of 186 members . He also requested that the PML-N should now be worried about its MPAs, who are “unhappy” with the PML-N’s leadership and policies.
In his conversation with the media, PMLQ’s Moonis Elahi asserted that the number game for the chief minister’s elections is over.
Moonis who is the son of the candidate for the PTI, Elahi Moonis said that PMLQ was supported by more than the lawmakers required.
“The government will experience its defeat this time around,” Moonis Elahi said, noting that their strategy of offering cash to legislators is not working.
In the meantime, PPP co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari was in town and had an interview together with PML-Q Chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain at the Zahoor Elahi Road residence.
New MPAs swear in
In addition, 19 recently chosen Punjab Assembly members who won seats at the recent Punjab by-elections also swore oath on Thursday.
In the MPAs that were elected fifteen were members of the PTI and three to the PML-N and one was an independent member.
Alongside, MPA Ali Afzal Sahi whom was elected in Faisalabad was also installed.
The news came as PTI Central Punjab President Dr Yasmin Rashid had asked for the Election Commission of Pakistan a day earlier to inform PTI’s winners on the result of the by-elections to 20 seats.
She added that the government should investigate horse trading in the name of the Interior Minister and PM Shehbaz Rana Sanaullah.
Dr Rashid said that the successful candidates were yet to swear in and then take part at the following session of the Punjab Assembly scheduled and notified for the 22nd of July (today) at the Punjab Assembly building.
PML-N indicates its validations
Additionally, in an intriguing development, the PMLN “validated the PTI’s assembly by sending its newly elected MPAs to swear in of PA Speaker Elahi – – a candidate to the PTI in polls.
This is a stark contrast with what had been seen in the previous sessions, where both camps agreed to have simultaneous sessions at different locations, blaming each other for and running “illegal” session.
In the past, there was speculation that the PML-N might continue its policy and prefer the deputy Speaker Sardar Dost Muhammad Mazari to take the swearing of the oath.
The government, however, continued to play the game by claiming that it was not in willing to grant its rival a slack walk.
Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah in a statement reiterated his claim that “politically informed” PTI lawmakers whose conscience is “alive” are not likely to vote for PML-Q’s leader for the chief minister’s elections on Friday.
The statement comes as the opposition parties -including PTI as well as PML-Q -are accusing the government PML-N of offering huge sums to their legislators in an effort to purchase their votes prior to the Punjab chief minister’s election set for Tomorrow (Friday).
The PML-N ruling party was defeated of the legislature in Punjab following by-polls for twenty Punjab Assembly seats in which the PTI won a massive victory.
Although the PTI-PMLQ is in the perfect position to create a coalition government Sanaullah stated that the party believes that Elahi is ineligible to be chief executive of the Punjab head of the executive.
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“We are appealing to everyone to get support for the CM election], which is our constitutional right,” the federal minister denied the claim that the PML-N has been associated with horse trade.
“The run-off elections will be held on the 14th of May and we will vigorously pursue our political options , however I strongly oppose the baseless accusations.”
Elahi recently filed a complaint in the Supreme Court seeking contempt proceedings against PML-N’s top leaders, as well as Sanaullah in the case of allegedly intimidating PTI lawmakers, in defiance of the court’s decision.
In response to the allegations of Imran Khan He claimed Imran Khan was the “mastermind of selling and buying in the world of politics”.
Alarming the public about the alleged parleys that took place behind the scenes, the PTI head on Wednesday warned that Lahore was witnessing the recurrence incident similar to the Sindh House horse-trading episode that was the source of the no-trust motion opposition parties that they been able to force him out of power.
He stated that a substantial amount of Rs500m was distributed to purchase MPAs. The wheeling and trading Imran claimed was created by PPP’s Asif Zardari, who “gets NRO (national reconciliation ordinance) for fraud and purchases those with stolen wealth”.
“Imran Khan must quit making false accusations and defaming other people… Khan himself was involved in these [horse tradeactions and video evidence of buying votes in Senate election is accessible,” Sana claimed.