No stability in Punjab

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AS egoism is at its peak and sharp differences refuse to subside, there are bleak prospects that the interim order of the Lahore High Court (LHC) and final verdict, whenever delivered, would bring any worthwhile stability in the political situation of the largest province of the country.

A five-member Bench of the LHC, which moved swiftly to take up the petition of Ch Pervaiz Elahi, granted instant interim relief, restored the Chief Minister and his Cabinet after he submitted an undertaking that he would not dissolve the Provincial Assembly till the next date of hearing on 11 January 2023.

However, the order will not preclude the petitioner from taking a vote of confidence on his own accord.

Strangely enough the order of the Court has neither declared action of the Governor (about de-notification of Ch Pervaiz Elahi as Chief Minister and dissolution of the Provincial Cabinet) null and void nor dealt with the legal issues involved.

It held the operation of the impugned orders of the Governor on 19 and 22 December in abeyance till the next date of hearing and that is why Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah has pointed out that the Court only provided interim relief to Ch Pervaiz Elahi and the Chief Minister will have to take a vote of confidence from the Assembly as directed by the Governor.

Though the court order is not specific but it has given sufficient time of about three weeks to the Chief Minister to seek a vote of confidence till the next hearing.

The very fact that the undertaking of the CM would remain operative till the next date of hearing is also an indication that the bench intends to issue a new order, obviously after hearing the two sides on that occasion.

However, despite giving an undertaking not to advise the Governor about dissolution of the Assembly till then, Ch Pervaiz Elahi has insisted that the house would be dissolved in line with the directives of PTI Chairman Imran Khan.

In view of the highly volatile situation, the court must consider and decide upon the contentious issues involved including continuation of the session of the Assembly for an indefinite period with the clear objective of virtually scuttling operation of the provisions relating to vote of confidence by the Chief Minister, power of the Governor to summon the house for the purpose and his power to de-notify the Chief Minister when he averts taking the vote of confidence.