Opposition holds session at hotel after Assembly closes, ‘elects’ Hamza Shehbaz as CM of Punjab in Pakistan: report

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After the Punjab Assembly was cordoned off with barbed wire and the building’s main gate locked, opposition lawmakers, led by the PML-N, held their own session at a private hotel , PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz claiming that Hamza Shehbaz had been ‘elected’ chief minister of Punjab, according to the Pakistani English-language daily’s website Dawn reported Wednesday evening.

The legality of the session and Hamza’s subsequent “victory” was unclear as the session was held outside the Punjab Assembly and attended only by opposition lawmakers, while neither President Parvez Elahi nor Vice President Sardar Dost Muhammad Mazari chaired it. Furthermore, no notification regarding the change of venue of the session or Hamza’s “victory” has been issued by the Punjab Assembly Secretariat.

The session was instead chaired by PPP MPA Shazia Abid, who was quoted as saying by Dawn.com that she was nominated to the Speakers’ Panel of the 40th Session of the Punjab Assembly on April 3. His presence on the panel was corroborated by a statement released by Punjab Assembly Secretary Muhammad Khan Bhatti on April 2.

Maryam Nawaz Sharif later tweeted that Hamza had been “elected” as the new chief minister of Punjab by opposition members with 199 votes.

Speaking on the legality of today’s vote, PML-N leader Rana Sanaullah said Geo News this assembly session had also been held at the Faletti Hotel in the past, adding that if a majority of MPAs had expressed confidence in Hamza, then “indeed, constitutionally and legally, Hamza is the CM of Punjab.”

Addressing a press conference after the session, Maryam and Hamza thanked Pakistan splinter groups Tehreek-i-Insaf Jahangir Khan Tareen and Aleem Khan, PPP and others for their support.

Reacting to the development, PML-Q leader Moonis Elahi, whose father and party leader Chaudhry Parvez Elahi is also a candidate for chief minister, joked, “Congratulations Hamza sahab on becoming the chief minister of Hotel Faletti”.

Earlier, while speaking to the media in Lahore, Vice President Sardar Dost Muhammad Mazari said an assembly session could be convened anywhere.

He said he consulted legal experts who advised him to proceed with the election of the chief minister “immediately on today’s date”.

Mazari alleged that AP President Chaudhry Parvez Elahi and his team were afraid he was creating a dangerous situation for them.

He said he had exercised his authority in accordance with the Constitution because Pakistan’s largest province had no chief minister.

It is pertinent to mention that during a Supreme Court hearing earlier today, Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial was told that the staff of the Punjab Assembly was not following the guidelines issued by the vice-president. To this, he pointed out that if the system did not cooperate, constitutional office holders could use their rights.

Earlier in the day, a large contingent of police officers carrying batons and equipped with shields were deployed outside the assembly building itself. Water cannons and Rescue 1122 vehicles were also present outside the assembly building.

The development coincided with the presentation of a motion of no confidence against Vice President Sardar Dost Muhammad Mazari, after he said the session for the election of the Chief Minister would take place this evening at 7.30 p.m., but a door Assembly spokesman and Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) denied the development.

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