LAHORE: The first hearing of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) reference seeking the disqualification of the provincial chief minister was conducted by Punjab Assembly Speaker Rana Iqbal Khan on Monday.
Lawmakers of the Imran Khan-led party claimed the speaker only heard the arguments and neither asked any questions not passed any comments, except saying he will take the decision as per the law after hearing both the parties.
PTI’s counsel Dr Babar Awan presented his arguments, citing different examples and laws. He argued the chief minister had violated his oath of office and gave preference to his personal interests rather than public and national interests.
He read out relevant portions of the oath in Urdu and English before the speaker and also quoted courts verdicts, including the recent sugar mills case, which according to Babar, will result in the CM’s disqualification.
When opposition leader in Punjab Assembly Mehmoodur Rasheed and other PTI lawmakers said they were optimistic the speaker would give a ‘historic decision’ on the reference, Rana Iqbal said the decision would be given as per the law.
Talking to reporters later, Babar said it was regrettable that decisions of disqualification were handed down in courts but the rulers were adamant on staying in office.
He claimed all opposition parties were on the same page and would not let Articles 62 and 63 to be expunged from the Constitution.
Earlier, security officials did not allow anyone except the legislators to enter the PA premises that led to a protest by the opposition members, who shouted slogans against the ruling family at the main gate.
The PTI had filed the reference seeking Shehbaz Sharif’s disqualification over alleged corruption and misuse of authority by allowing the shifting of his family’s sugar mills to other feasible areas. The Lahore High Court had also declared the shifting of mills illegal.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 14th, 2017.
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