LAHORE: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Hamza Shehbaz said that the elections for the Punjab Assembly speaker were rigged.
Speaking outside the Punjab Assembly after losing the speaker and deputy speaker’s elections to Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), he said that these elections were a continuity of rigging against PML-N, which started well before the general elections.
He said that they had forewarned that if rigging witnessed in the general elections continues, they would not let the assemblies function. He added that they would not opt for sit-ins and lockdowns.
“We will fight our case constitutionally,” he said adding “we will issue a white paper soon to expose the rigging and flaws in these elections.” The PML-N leader said that they are soldiers of PML-N and Nawaz Sharif and would not bow down to any pressure.
Hamza also clarified that the party’s candidate for the NA would be PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif. He added that they had fulfilled their promise by voting for Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) in the elections for the speaker and it was now up to PPP to act upon their words.
He said that PML-N is the largest opposition party and would prove to be a strong opposition for the PTI led government.
It is pertinent to mention here that more than 10 PML-N MPAs’ voted for PML-Q leader Chaudhry Pervez Elahi, who was a PTI led candidate for Punjab Assembly speaker. According to Hamza, PML-N had a total of 161 members in the house out of which only 147 members voted for PML-N nominee Speaker Chaudhry Iqbal. “We had to protest against the rigging and demand from the speaker to investigate rigging,” he added. Hamza said that it was only after their protest that they won their vote back for Deputy Speaker election where their candidate secured 159 votes after two of the votes were rejected.
According to sources, many of PML-N candidates were in touch with PML-Q leaders but despite knowing this, it was difficult to determine who traded vote due to secrecy of the ballot. However, the election has put question marks on the leadership of Hamza, according to sources.
The source said that Hamza was supposed to only muster the support of his own MPAs in Punjab, which he failed to do so and added that if something similar happens during the CM elections, it would be very embarrassing for the party in Punjab.
Talking to the media, Khawaja Salman Rafique said that that they would investigate the horse trading and punish the MPAs responsible whereas Hamza’s media cell has denied knowledge of any such investigation.