Imran Khan’s party to call ‘parallel’ Punjab Assembly session to elect CM: Report

Maryam, the 50-year-old senior vice president of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party

Lahore: Former Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan’s party plans to call a “parallel” Punjab Assembly session to elect the chief minister, speaker and deputy speaker, claiming that newly-elected chief minister Maryam Nawaz was in the House on “a stolen mandate”, a media report said on Tuesday.

Maryam, the 50-year-old senior vice president of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party, made history by becoming the first-ever woman chief minister of Pakistan’s most populous Punjab province after receiving 220 votes.

She defeated Rana Aftab of 71-year-old Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf-backed Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC), who received no votes as his party boycotted the election.

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Former-cricketer-turned-politician Khan’s PTI party made a call for a “parallel” Punjab Assembly on Monday after claiming a strength of 250 members, including reserved seats for women and minorities, the Dawn newspaper reported.

To win the chief minister’s election, a candidate needs to win the backing of the majority, which is 187 members in the House that currently has 327 seats.

Addressing a press conference, PTI’s central leader, Shaukat Basra, claimed that more than half of the elected Punjab Assembly members, including the newly elected chief minister Maryam, were in the House on “a stolen mandate”.

He claimed that Maryam was defeated by a PTI-backed candidate, Mehr Sharafat, in Lahore’s PP-159 constituency, according to the report.

Asserting that the results were rigged to ensure the new Punjab chief minister’s victory, Basra said that Maryam “won the election on February 9 instead of February 8”.

“PML-N leaders used to say they struck a deal with powers that be, but they failed to strike a deal with the people of Pakistan,” he said.

“This rigged election will result in anarchy,” the PTI leader said.

Claiming that the establishment was still requesting PTI founder Khan to become prime minister, Basra said,
“But Mr Khan is determined that the establishment should ensure the mandate given by the people of Pakistan to PTI-backed candidates be returned,” he said.

Separately, the party criticised Maryam’s election as the chief minister of the politically crucial Punjab province and said all democratic and constitutional norms were trampled to elect her.

In a statement, the party’s spokesperson claimed that police “imposed a curfew” outside the assembly to prevent PTI’s members and the nominee for chief minister from entering the assembly.

It claimed that the sanctity of the Punjab Assembly was violated by “stealing the public mandate” to bring a “defeated woman” to power.

The spokesperson said the people of Punjab “would not tolerate an insult to their mandate”, according to the report.

At least 103 lawmakers of the PTI-backed SIC staged a walkout after the SIC nominee for chief minister, Aftab, was not permitted to speak at the point of order.

The newly-elected Speaker, Malik Ahmad Khan, eventually moved forward with the proceedings to elect a new leader of the House after efforts to bring back the boycotting lawmakers went in vain.

The PML-N clinched both speaker and deputy speaker offices in the Punjab Assembly.

In a marathon session of the Punjab Assembly on Saturday, the lawmakers elected PML-N leader Malik Ahmad Khan as the custodian of the House and Zaheer Iqbal Channar as his deputy.

The PML-N won 137 seats, while independents backed by 71-year-old Khan’s PTI party won 113 in the Punjab Assembly. Separately, 20-odd independents, not PTI-backed, have already joined the PML-N.

Punjab is the most populous province of Pakistan, home to 120 million people.

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