After much ado, Elahi proves majority

Ruling coalition shows it is backed by 186 lawmakers

Rana Yasif/Jawad Zulfiqar January 12, 2023
Opposition lawmakers surround the speaker’s dais during the vote of confidence proceedings. PHOTO: EXPRESS


Following weeks of political turbulence in Punjab, Chief Minister Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi proved his majority in the provincial assembly, winning the much-hyped vote of confidence amid ruckus and opposition’s boycott in the early hours of Thursday.

The vote of confidence that commenced after midnight concluded with the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) coalition showing majority in the provincial legislature with the support of 186 lawmakers – the minimum number of votes required to win the trust vote.

Earlier, PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry had announced that Elahi would take the vote “shortly”, followed by the deputy speaker validating it as well. The proceedings thus resumed and Law Minister Raja Basharat tabled the resolution in the house. Later, the members were invited to the house and the voting commenced.

During the tabling of the resolution, members belonging to the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) surrounded the speaker’s dais and shouted slogans. As soon as the voting started, the opposition members staged walkout.

The opposition members kicked down the lobby door and stormed out. They protested outside the assembly building against the government.

Though the matter was still in court, the government went ahead with the vote at midnight despite tensions between lawmakers on both sides. Even as the ruckus followed, the government appeared determined to hold the vote.

Earlier in the day, the provincial assembly saw another day of the proceedings marred by ruckus. As the proceedings began, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) demanded that the chief minister take the vote of confidence.

While Speaker Sibtain Khan said that the court would decide on the matter, the main opposition party persisted with its demand, calling for the voting to be held before the Question Hour.

The PTI lawmakers pointed out that this had been going on for three days. Subsequently, the opposition surrounded the speaker’s dais and tore the copies of the agenda. Following a break, the treasury benches passed a bill, drawing protests from the PML-N.

The opposition party reiterated its call for the government to show its majority and once again surrounded the speaker’s dais. The security staff then came to the speaker’s defence.

Later, on opposition’s insistence, the speaker started counting the numbers. The ruling coalition was found to be in majority. A recount followed and the lawmakers were asked to stand up from their seats, however, the result was the same. Following this, the PML-N pushed for the adjournment of the proceedings till Thursday.

Meanwhile, Khalil Tahir Sindhu was found to be talking to Federal Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah in the gallery. Basharat pointed this out and said that a conspiracy was being forged there and accused Sanaullah of overseeing the entire operation.

On the other hand, PML-N persisted in its demand for adjournment. The speaker called for a general debate, to which everyone agreed. A general discussion was thus held on price hikes and the ongoing political scenario.

Various lawmakers, including Dr Yasmin Rashid and Fayazul Hassan Chohan, from the treasury benches participated in the debate and accused the PML-N of destroying the country’s economy and leading it to the situation it is currently in.

The PML-N was continuously asking for the adjournment, but the speaker was firm on continuing the session.

It is worth mentioning here that in a bid to push the federal government into announcing early elections, PTI Chairman Imran Khan announced the dissolution of assemblies where it is in majority.

While the party retains a clear majority in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P), the situation in Punjab was a bit more complex, considering how the current government was formed.

Punjab Governor Balighur Rehman had asked Chief Minister Elahi to take a vote of confidence. He was subsequently de-notified for not going ahead with it.

The ruling party, however, approached the Lahore High Court (LHC) over the matter. Upon Elahi’s assurance that he would not dissolve the assembly until the next hearing on January 11, the court reinstated him.


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