Former PML-N opposition leader Punjab Assembly Hamza Shehbaz today took oath as Chief Minister. On the other hand, the resigned Chief Minister Usman Buzdar also presided over the meeting of the Punjab Cabinet after the resignation was rejected by the Governor, which he said was restored due to the decision of the Governor.
This is not about a few years ago, but about the same year and the same month when a no-confidence motion was brought against Prime Minister Imran Khan and he was removed, and then Shehbaz Sharif was sworn in as the Prime Minister. The prime minister’s son has had the good fortune to take the oath of office today, but the PTI has accused the two historic events of being unconstitutional.
If the PTI claims that Usman Buzdar’s resignation is an unconstitutional act written in the name of the Prime Minister, then the resignation has no value, in which case Buzdar is still the Chief Minister of Punjab. On the other hand, Hamza Shehbaz has been sworn in as Chief Minister on the orders of the Lahore High Court. The question is, what are the challenges for the new Chief Minister?
Usman Buzdar resigns as CM
Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar had tendered his resignation to former Prime Minister Imran Khan on March 28 last month. Minister of State for Information Farrukh Habib claimed that the next Chief Minister of Punjab would be Chaudhry Pervez Elahi. The former Prime Minister nominated Chaudhry Pervez Elahi as the Chief Minister of Punjab.
Selection of Hamza Shehbaz
Speaker Punjab Assembly Pervez Elahi had the support of the former ruling party PTI, but at the time of the election, the Jahangir Tareen group and Aleem Khan group supported Hamza Shehbaz. On April 16, Hamza Shehbaz was elected Chief Minister of Punjab.
During the election of Chief Minister in the Punjab Assembly, Hamza Shehbaz got the votes of 197 members. Due to the boycott of PTI and PML-Q, the voting was completely one-sided. However, the swearing-in ceremony could not be held soon after the refusal of Governor Omar Sarfraz Cheema.
Decision of LHC and Governor
Three days ago today, the Lahore High Court directed Punjab Governor Omar Sarfraz Cheema to take oath as Chief Minister from Hamza Shehbaz by April 28, saying that if the governor does not want to take the oath then someone else can be nominated.
Surprisingly, the swearing-in ceremony of Hamza Shehbaz was delayed for 14 days. Earlier on April 22, the Lahore High Court had ruled that the governor has no right to refuse to take oath from the newly elected chief minister of a province.
Speaker of NA in place of Governor
Yesterday, the Lahore High Court delivered its reserved judgment on not taking oath despite the court order of the governor. The decision said that Speaker of National Assembly Raja Ashraf should take oath from Hamza Shehbaz on April 30. In its remarks, the court repeatedly reminded the President and the Governor of Punjab of their constitutional obligation to take an oath or appoint a representative for taking the oath.
What does the law say?
It may be recalled that former Chief Minister Usman Buzdar resigned on March 28 and today, April 30, Hamza Shehbaz has taken the oath of office, as if the government in Punjab had been without an administrative head for more than a month.
The judiciary and the legislature are among the major pillars of the state while the court does not interfere in the affairs of the legislature unless the politicians compel it. After refusing to take the oath, the politicians themselves knocked on the door of the court.
Big challenges for Hamza Shehbaz
The PTI claims that Hamza Shehbaz has been illegally made the Chief Minister. On the other hand, Usman Buzdar, who has been the Chief Minister for three and a half years, has not been able to gain much popularity among the people. The biggest challenge for Hamza Shehbaz is to prove himself as the constitutional Chief Minister during his one and half year tenure and gain popularity by taking people-friendly steps.
Hamza Shehbaz became the Chief Minister when his father is the Prime Minister of the country, in which case the performance of Hamza Shehbaz will be viewed with more criticism. In the past, his father Shehbaz Sharif, as the Chief Minister of Punjab, did exemplary development work for the whole province including Lahore. Hamza Shehbaz has to prove that as a Chief Minister he can do the same or better than his father.