Punjab Chief Minister Chaudhry Parvez Elahi advised Governor Balighur Rehman on Thursday night to dissolve the provincial assembly, fulfilling the promise to Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan and paving the way for fresh elections.
Elahi’s son, Moonis, shared a one-line dissolution summary, and the note of its receipt at the governor’s office on his Twitter handle, confirming the latest development. “Promise fulfilled. May we see you back in PM seat soon Imran Khan,” he wrote in a tweet.
“I, Parvez Elahi Chief Minister Punjab, hereby advise you to dissolve the provincial assembly of Punjab,” said the chief minister’s advice to the Governor Rehman on the letterhead of the ‘Chief Minister Punjab’ as shared on Twitter by Moonis Elahi.
Moonis also shared another picture showing the receipt of the advice by the governor’s office. It mentioned the receipt of sealed envelope at 10:10pm on 12 January 2023. “Dissolution (advice) received at Governor House. No way out but elections,” Moonis wrote.
The advice to dissolve the assembly came less than 24 hours after the chief minister obtained the vote of confidence from the Punjab Assembly in the wee hours of Thursday.
The dissolution of the Punjab Assembly along with the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa legislature – the two provinces where the PTI and its major ally, the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) are in the government – was announced by former prime minister Imran Khan at the end of his anti-government march on November 26.
Besides the two assemblies, Imran had said, the PTI lawmakers in the Sindh Assembly would also resign, while its members had already quit the National Assembly. With this, nearly two-thirds of the constituencies would fall vacant and the government would be forced to call general elections instead of by-polls.
Since Imran Khan’s announcement, the PML-N stepped up its efforts for preventing the assembly dissolution. Last month, the PML-N filed a no-confidence motion against the chief minister before the Governor Rehman ordered him to seek a fresh vote of confidence from the assembly.
However, the speaker refused to call a fresh session on the stipulated date for the trust vote, challenging the legality of the governor’s order. On that the governor de-notified the chief minister and his cabinet. Later, Elahi challenged the governor’s order in the Lahore High Court, which had restored his government temporarily.
As per the Constitution, experts said, the governor was required to sign the summary and the assembly would stand dissolved. In case the governor does not sign the summary, the assembly would automatically be dissolved 48 hours after its receipt. In the current scenario that would be 10:10pm Saturday.
The experts said that the summary paved the way for fresh elections for the provincial assembly in 90 days – before end of April. But for now, the consultation process for forming a caretaker government would start immediately after the dissolution between Elahi and leader of opposition Hamza Shehbaz.
Earlier, Chief Minister Elahi chaired a consultative meeting with Punjab Assembly Speaker Muhammad Sabtain Khan, Provincial Minister Raja Basharat and National Assembly member (MNA) Hussain Elahi to deliberate on the current political scenario.
The chief minister told the participants of the meeting that by withdrawing the de-notification order, the Punjab governor had “endorsed our point of view”. He denounced Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah’s “nefarious attempt” to distort facts and mislead the people.
Speaker Sibtain Khan said that the assembly completed the vote of confidence proceedings as per law and the Constitution. In his separate media talk, the speaker said that for the last three days the opposition was crying for the vote of confidence and “when we showed our strength it was talking about a no-trust motion”.
Before sending the summary to the governor, the chief minister also held a meeting with PTI Chairman Imran Khan, PTI Senior Vice President Fawad Chaudhry told reporters. He highlighted that Elahi had signed the dissolution summary which was being sent to Governor Rehman for his assent.
A day after tomorrow, Chaudhry further announced that the K-P Assembly would also be dissolved in the same manner. “After dissolution of two provincial assemblies, as per the Constitution, elections will be held in 60% of the country in the next 90 days,” he maintained.
On the occasion, Chaudhry said the PTI once again asked the National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf to accept the resignations of “our parliamentarians” tendered soon after the PTI-led government was removed through a no-confidence motion in April last year.
“The federal government should quit its stubbornness and initiate the process of electoral reforms before going into elections in the whole of Pakistan because the political stability is a must for economic stability in the country,” Chaudhry emphasised.
In a separate media talk, the PTI Chairman’s counsel Barrister Ali Zafar said that there were no hitches in dissolving the Punjab Assembly now, as the Punjab chief minister had succeeded in securing the vote of confidence from the house.
PTI Central Punjab General Secretary Hammad Azhar told the media that under the present circumstances the country’s economic woes could not be addressed until “the entire coalition government resigned and fresh elections were held immediately”.
Provincial Minister Raja Basharat said that the governor had accepted the vote of confidence and withdrew the de-notification order. “The Governor’s counsel declared the Punjab Assembly proceedings constitutional and lawful. Rana Sanaullah is making a false propaganda to overcome his depression and as a face-saving.”
Separately, Imran chaired a meeting, attended by the party’s parliamentary leader in Punjab, Usman Buzdar, divisional coordinators and chief whip. The PTI chairman congratulated the entire team for the success in the Punjab Assembly.
“Our team gave a historic surprise to the imported rulers; the way our legislators voted for the Punjab chief minister despite the offers and threats was commendable,” he said. He instructed the provincial parliamentarians to prepare for the upcoming elections.