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PTI Leadership Backs Dissolution of Punjab, KP Assemblies

In response, PMLN vows to exercise ‘all available options’ to prevent the dissolution of Punjab Assembly

by Staff Report

File photo of Chaudhry Fawad Hussain

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Senior Vice-President Chaudhry Fawad Hussain on Monday announced that the party’s leadership has approved chief Imran Khan’s decision to dissolve the provincial assemblies in Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

“We are quitting the assemblies,” he told journalists after a meeting of the PTI leadership in Lahore, referring to PTI Chairman Khan’s announcement last week that his party would quit all assemblies because it did not wish to be part of the “corrupt” system. “Therefore, [PTI leadership] has approved the decision to dissolve the assemblies,” he added.

Fawad said that Khan had already discussed his decision with KP Chief Minister Mahmood Khan. The PTI would hold a meeting with Punjab Chief Minister Parvez Elahi later this week, he added. “The meetings of the parliamentary parties of both the assemblies have been summoned for later this week, following which the assemblies will be dissolved,” he said, claiming that once the two assemblies had been dissolved and the PTI had exited the Balochistan and Sindh assemblies, voting would need to be conducted on 563 seats nationwide and this could only be achieved through early elections.

Claiming that the opposition would be invited to hold consultations with the government in both provinces over the formation of the interim government, he reiterated the PTI’s claims of political stability requiring snap polls. “[P.M. Shehbaz Sharif] should announce the date for general elections and dissolve the National Assembly,” he said, adding that even if he didn’t the PTI would do so in provinces under its rule.

To a question on the possibility of the opposition filing a vote of no-confidence against the incumbent chief ministers, Fawad said they were free to do so, but would only manage a reprieve of 2-3 days, as they “lack the majority for it to succeed.”

Opposition rejects dissolution

The combined opposition in both KP and Punjab has already announced it would fight against the PTI’s attempt to dissolve assemblies, with parties deliberating on various measures that could be taken to prevent it. A meeting of the PMLN’s parliamentary party in Punjab on Monday decided it would avail “all available options” to foil the dissolution bid, with lawmakers discussing tabling a no-confidence vote; imposition of governor’s rule; or even having the governor seek a vote of confidence from the chief minister.

While the opposition has yet to finalize any strategy, its meetings continued on Tuesday, with a delegation of the PPP meeting with the PMLN on Tuesday to continue deliberations. After the meeting, Special Assistant to the P.M. Attaullah Tarar said a formal strategy would be unveiled within a day or two. He also hinted at approaching courts to prevent the dissolution, stressing that the country’s economic situation did not permit separate elections in the provinces and at the center. He also lamented that the opposition’s pending cases were not being taken up by the courts in a timely manner, which was causing further confusion.

Both the PPP and PMLN also claimed that “several” lawmakers of the government did not agree with Khan’s decision, adding that they could aid in efforts to prevent the dissolution of the assemblies.

No fear

Meanwhile, Punjab C.M. Elahi reiterated that he was ready to dissolve the provincial assembly whenever Khan ordered it. In a statement, he also challenged the opposition to table a no-confidence motion against him, maintaining the PMLQ and PTI’s combined strength was sufficient to defeat the opposition’s moves.

“When the assembly is in session, the voting on a no-confidence motion cannot take place. Similarly, a confidence vote cannot be held while the assembly is in session,” he claimed, although several legal experts have questioned this, maintaining there is no such legal provision.

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