IK should mend his ways | By Kanwar M Dilshad

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IK should mend his ways

THE Lahore High Court Chief Justice has ruled that Punjab Governor Umar Sarfraz Cheema can’t refuse administering oath to Chief Minister elect Hamza Shehbaz and expects that President Arif Alvi will decide the matter in terms of Article 104 by nominating any person to administer the oath without further delay.

The unprecedented constitutional crisis in Punjab surrounding the legality of acting Chief Minister Usman Buzdar resignation and administering oath to Chief Minister elect Hamza Shehbaz is likely to linger on despite the Lahore High Court expectation that the President of Pakistan will nominate a person other than Governor of the Punjab to swear the newly-elected Chief Minister.

The crisis erupted when the newly appointed Punjab Governor Umar Sarfraz Cheema on April 17, a day after the election of the Chief Minister in a stormy session of the Punjab Assembly that descended into downright violence, refused to administer oath to Chief Minister elect Hamza, stating the Assembly Secretary report, Lahore High Court instructions and facts presented to him raised objections on the validity of the election.

In the election, scores of PTI MPAs were injured, as well as Speaker Assembly Chaudhary Pervaiz Elahi, one of the two candidates for the Chief Minister.

Hamza Shehbaz had bagged 197 votes, including 26 from PTI dissidents, while Mr. Pervaiz Elahi didn’t get any as the PTI and PML-Q law makers felt they were not allowed to vote.

Apparently, the President of Pakistan and Governor Punjab are trying to buy some time for their party, which is waiting for the Election Commission of Pakistan to decide a reference seeking the disqualification of 26 PTI law makers who had voted for Hamza Shehbaz against their party nominee Pervez Elahi for the post. But sooner or later, they will have to follow the Constitution willingly or unwillingly.

Their deliberate disregard for the Constitution will, however, go down in the annals of Pakistan’s chequered political history as a black spot.

The political crisis spawned by one illegal action after the other by the PTI and its ally PML-Q, in their bid to cling to power by hook or crock in Punjab, is unprecedented.

The way, the two parties had tried to initially delay the election of the Chief Minister, and later the violence they inflicted on the Deputy Speaker and their opponents on the day of the election, was enough to expose their disrespect towards democracy.

And now the tactics they are using to delay the oath taking is further damaging whatever democratic credentials they are left with.

From between the lines of an angry speech and later on press conference, which have varied little from city to city, Imran Khan has demanded from the powers that be that they give him an early election. It is the only way, he says, to set right the wrong that he believes was done to him.

The call for a march on Islamabad, to be announced at a date of his choosing, is leverage for enforcing that demand.

It remains to be seen how seriously and enthusiastically it is taken up by his supporters if indeed matters come to that.

Imran Khan should realise ground reality and he ought to rise above the politics of hate and adopt a narrative of inclusion and reconciliation instead.

Imran Khan should realise that the National Security Committee dismissed the allegation that the PTI government was ousted on account of a foreign conspiracy.

—The writer is former Secretary Election Commission of Pakistan and currently Chairman National Democratic Foundation.

 

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