DESPITE numerous odds till the last moment, Hamza Shehbaz finally took oath to become 21st Chief Minister of Punjab.
He was administered oath by Speaker National Assembly Raja Pervez Ashraf as per directions issued by the Lahore High Court (LHC) in the backdrop of hindrances created by the President and the Governor in the process of oath-taking on flimsy grounds and pretexts.
The country’s judiciary, which played a crucial role in stabilizing the situation at the Centre, also deserves credit for its memorable contribution in ending the artificially created constitutional and parliamentary crisis in Punjab.
Despite repeated violations of its unambiguous orders, the Lahore High Court (LHC), on Friday, once again issued directions for administration of oath to the Chief Minister-elect Hamza Shehbaz.
The crisis in Punjab is a classic example of how far some leaders and parties could go to stick to power even if it meant violation of the Constitution, relevant laws and Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business of the Provincial Assembly.
It was height of obstinacy that in flagrant violations of the court order and contrary to the ground realities, Governor Umar Cheema, whose own appointment and continuation as Governor was in question as, according to the legal experts, the then Prime Minister was not empowered to change Governor Punjab without approval of the Supreme Court, reinstated Usman Buzdar as Chief Minister of the province ahead of the oath-taking ceremony of Hamza Shehbaz.
As per his claims, Buzdar wrongly addressed his resignation to the Prime Minister, forgetting that the Prime Minister duly forwarded the resignation to the competent authority in this regard i.e. Governor Punjab who verified and then accepted the resignation.
The objection is an after-thought as a formal notification was issued by Chief Secretary (with the approval of the Governor) to ask Usman Buzdar to continue as CM as an interim arrangement, Pervez Elahi fully participated in the electoral process and even Usman Buzdar became his proposer and seconder and went to the Assembly Hall to cast vote (which he did not because of subsequent decision of the ruling coalition to boycott the poll on pretexts other than constitutional status of Buzdar).
Political observers apprehend that grounds are being prepared either for dissolution or suspension of the Assembly and imposition of Governor’s rule in the province, which would be yet another affront to the constitutional scheme of things.
In fact, the conduct of the President and the Governor during crises at the Centre and in Punjab bears testimony to the fact that to them personal loyalty was more important than the onerous responsibilities of these constitutional offices and loyalty to the state.
Perhaps, it would be an extreme measure to initiate proceedings under Article-6 of the Constitution but willful violations of the Constitution must be penalized by courts to send a strong message to all to uphold the dignity of their offices and go only by the book.
Punjab is the largest province of the country and deserves to be governed smoothly so that problems of the people are resolved on a priority basis.
Sooner or later general elections are to be held and both PTI and Pervez Elahi will have an opportunity to try their luck and return to power if so mandated by voters.