PML-N’s Hamza Shehbaz has been elected the new chief minister of Punjab following a chaotic session at the provincial assembly that saw Deputy Speaker Sardar Dost Muhammad Mazari attacked and PML-Q leader Chaudhry Parvez Elahi injured.
Once the session got underway, PTI and PML-Q lawmakers staged a walkout, following which the deputy speaker ordered that the doors of the legislature be closed and commenced the proceedings for voting.
Prior to the resumption of the session, television footage showed Elahi intubated and with a bandage wrapped around his right forearm.
He alleged that PML-N MPA Rana Mashood broke his hand. “During his (Shehbaz’s) exile, I took care of Hamza [Shehbaz] but today he showed his reality,” he said. “This is Sharif’s democracy. They have crossed the limits today.”
Elahi later told Dawn News that PML-N had “taken revenge” from him today and and accused Punjab Inspector General of Police Rao Sardar Ali Khan of acting directly on Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s directives.
“He (Shehbaz) sent the IG to the House. Police can never enter the House. This has happened for the first time in the history of Pakistan,” he said.
“The court does not listen to me either,” Elahi complained.
Deputy speaker attacked, pelted with lotas:
Earlier, slogans were chanted by both the parties, while PTI members threw lotas at the opposition benches, leading to open altercations and fights on the floor of the house.
When Mazari entered the assembly, members of the treasury benches threw lotas at him and tried to circle him, while one of the MPAs pulled his hair and others were seen taking shots at him. Mazari was immediately shifted to his chamber by assembly guards.
To control the situation inside the house, Punjab SSP Operations along with a huge contingent of police officers entered the assembly in civil clothes but later exited the hall after protests from Elahi.
Meanwhile, the Punjab chief secretary and IG held a meeting inside Mazari’s chamber to chalk out a plan to resume the PA session.
Later in the day, officers of the Anti-riots Force, clad in bulletproof jackets, entered the Punjab Assembly via its old gate after the deputy speaker summoned them through a letter written to chief secretary and IG Punjab.
‘LHC should take suo motu notice’:
In a media talk outside the Punjab Assembly following the ruckus, PML-N leader Attaullah Tarar blamed Elahi and his “group of gangsters” for everything that happened inside the legislature.
“What happened today was a huge violation of the law and Constitution,” he said. “Today, the deputy speaker was attacked. This is an incident of terrorism. I have heard Chaudhry Parvez Elahi wants to get one or two people murdered.”
He added that Elahi had been encouraging the MPAs when they attacked the deputy speaker.
Tarar called on the Lahore High Court to take suo motu notice of the incident and initiate action against the culprits. “We are here and won’t move till midnight.”
‘Courts can’t interfere in proceedings’:
Meanwhile, Elahi blamed the PML-N for bringing the police inside the legislature “for the first time since the creation of assemblies”.
“Who is police to enter the assembly?” the PML-Q leader said. “We will make sure the inspector general of police (IGP) appears before us and he will be punished for a month.”
He said that under the Constitution, the courts can’t interfere in assembly proceedings. Speaking to the media, he said that the whole issue started when the court intervened in the matter and questioned how it could dictate what could and could not happen during proceedings.
“The powers of the deputy speaker lie with the speaker of the assembly,” he said, adding that the speaker could delegate his powers.
He said he had delegated his powers to the deputy speaker as he was contesting the election for the chief minister of the province. “I stepped down for the sake of free and fair elections. [But] if the deputy speaker misuses his powers on the wrongful backing of the courts, it was going to be challenged.”
He went on to say that when the Lahore High Court gave the order allowing the deputy speaker to conduct the session, they suspended his powers as speaker of the house. “This is illegal,” he said.
He added that the real “fight” ensued after police entered the assembly, which had not happened before in the country’s history. “In my opinion, there can be no bigger stain on democracy than this,” he said.
He regretted the fact that treasury lawmakers were bribed into changing sides after being promised money and ministries. “They were shifted to three hotels and from there they were brought [to the assembly] in buses.”
Politicians condemn attack on Mazari:
The attack on Mazari and the ruckus inside the provincial assembly was strongly crticised by the government and PML-N leaders.
Taking to Twitter, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said the attack on the deputy speaker “must be condemned in strongest terms possible” and declared the violence inside the assembly “fascism”.
PML-N Vice-President Maryam Nawaz followed suit and called out PTI for resorting to “hooliganism” in the face of defeat. “No matter what you do, the right of Punjab will be given to it today,” she promised.
PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said that the attack on the PA deputy speaker was an attack on the courts who had ruled to conduct the election today, the democracy, the Constitution, the federation and the people of South Punjab.
PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal said, “Imran Niazi is hell-bent [on creating] anarchy at all levels.” He added that the former prime minister was trying to follow Hitler’s disciple.
PML-N’s Rana Sanaullah, on the other hand, demanded action be taken against PTI and PML-Q leaders for “desecrating the assembly”.
Meanwhile, writer Hina Parvez Butt cautioned that what happened in the assembly today was seen across the world. “The image of Pakistan is being lowered,” she regretted.
The Punjab Assembly ruckus was also denounced in the National Assembly session today and a resolution was passed which demanded that the “trend of violence” must be stopped.