Punjab Assembly Speaker Rana Muhammad Iqbal addressed a letter to Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, requesting him to advise President Asif Ali Zardari to remove Salmaan Taseer from the office of the Governor of Punjab.
The letter said Taseer violated the constitution by remaining absent from the country for four days without informing the president.
The letter highlighted the absence of the governor from December 5 to December 8.
The fact that the governor was absent from the country was first brought to notice of the Punjab Assembly speaker and of the House by a member of the Punjab Assembly, Ali Haider Noor Khan Niazi, while the House was in session on December 8.
As per the Constitution (as amended by the 18th amendment) the speaker of a provincial assembly automatically assumes the office and functions of the governor during the absence of the governor. This also means that while holding the office of the governor, the speaker of a provincial assembly cannot chair a session of the assembly.
The house was adjourned for fifteen minutes to confirm the absence of Salmaan Taseer from the country. All efforts to trace Taseer remained futile. Consequently, the assembly resumed with the deputy speaker in the chair. A spokesperson for the governor’s house, when contacted, denied that the governor was out of the country. “The governor is on a private visit to Sukkur and will return to Lahore on Wednesday evening, after a short stay in Karachi,” the spokesperson said.
Later, the governor’s absence was confirmed through travel documents, including a copy of his ticket and a copy of the passenger manifest declared to the Civil Aviation and FIA.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 19th, 2010.