Process for interim Punjab set-up set in motion

The process to install a caretaker set-up in Punjab was set in motion on Saturday after the provincial assembly was allowed to dissolve automatically as Governor Balighur Rehman refrained from giving his assent to the dissolution advice of Chief Minister Pervaiz Elahi.

According to Article 112(1), the assembly stands automatically “dissolved at the expiration of 48 hours after the chief minister has so advised” if the governor did not do it.

With the dissolution of the assembly, Elahi’s nearly six-month-long tumultuous stint at the top post ended along with his cabinet.

Meanwhile, The Express Tribune learnt that the PTI would decide on the nominees for the caretaker chief minister today (Sunday).

A senior PTI leader, requesting anonymity, revealed to The Express Tribune that CM Elahi would meet PTI Chairman Imran Khan on Sunday to discuss the nominees for the slot of caretaker chief minister.

Read more: Punjab Assembly stands dissolved without governor’s approval

“We have listed a civil servant, an economist and a lawyer for the post of caretaker chief ministership,” the source said. “We will disclose their names today (Sunday).”

It is learnt that the PTI is considering the names of former inspector general of police Shoaib Suddle, Senior Advocate Dr Parvez Hassan, and Economist Salman Shah.

Hours before the end of the window provided under the Constitution to give consent to the advice sent by CM Elahi to dissolve the assembly of the biggest (population-wise) province of the country, the governor tweeted on Saturday night: “I have decided not to become part of the process leading to the dissolution of Punjab Assembly. I would rather let the Constitution and law to take its own course. Doing so will not hamper any legal process as Constitution clearly provides a way forward.”

Later at 10:10pm, the governor wrote a letter to CM Elahi and the opposition leader in the provincial assembly, calling them to participate in the process of appointment of the caretaker chief minister.

The letter titled ‘Appointment of Caretaker Chief Minister’ read: “The provincial assembly of the Punjab and the cabinet stands dissolved under Article 112(I) of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan wef January 14, 2023 at 2210 hrs.

Also read: PM Shehbaz will be ‘put to test’ through confidence vote: Imran

“The caretaker CM shall be appointed by the undersigned in consultation with the outgoing CM and the opposition leader in the outgoing Provincial Assembly as per Article 224(1A) of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

“Above in view, I call upon you to participate in the process of appointment of caretaker CM and provide the name of a person to be appointed as such, within three days hereof, ie by January 17, 2023, 2210 hours.

“In this respect, should you desire to call on the undersigned or that a meeting be arranged amongst the three of us, please be assured that I remain available for the discharge of my constitutional duties.”

Earlier, speaking to the media during the day, Governor Rehman underscored that dissolution of the Punjab Assembly was an important responsibility and he did not want to make any decision in haste.

He indicated that he had time till tonight (Saturday) and steps would have to be taken to uphold the Constitution. “I will take this decision with a heavy heart and pray that whatever decision is taken, it will be for the good of the country and the nation,” he added.

After winning the vote of confidence on Thursday, CM Elahi had sent an advice to the Punjab governor for dissolution of the Punjab Assembly. The decision to dissolve the provincial assembly was taken during a meeting between the chief minister and the PTI chairman, where senior party leaders were also present.

PTI Senior Vice President Fawad Chaudhry told media persons that the Punjab chief minister had signed the summary asking the governor to dissolve the provincial assembly.

He said the advice had been sent to the governor, which was later confirmed by the governor through a tweet showing a copy of the chief minister’s advice with a message “just received…”.

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