ISLAMABAD: PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry on Friday urged Governor Balighur Rehman to dissolve the Punjab Assembly (PA) forthwith instead of waiting for the 48-hour deadline to pass.
“We advise the governor to not wait 48 hours and to sign the summary already,” he said while speaking to the media outside former prime minister Imran Khan’s Zaman Park residence in Lahore.
The remarks come a day after Punjab Chief Minister Chaudhry Parvez Elahi, hours after regaining the confidence of a majority of lawmakers in PA, formally advised the governor to dissolve the provincial legislature.
The move capped weeks of speculation, legal wrangling and a public spectacle of the differences between the ruling allies in Punjab — the PTI and the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) — over whether the assembly would be disbanded or not.
During today’s media talk, Fawad said contact was being initiated with Leader of the Opposition in the PA Hamza Shahbaz to begin discussions over the caretaker setup and that Elahi would be forwarding him a few names.
“We hope he (Elahi) sends the names of those who are able to carry out free and fair elections,” he said.
Fawad added that Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mahmood Khan and his cabinet were scheduled to visit the PTI chairman but were unable to do so due to bad weather.
“We spoke to them on the phone,” he said. “They have prepared the advice to dissolve the KP assembly”.
He lambasted the ruling coalition government for “hiding their faces from the public”.
“All they do is run from elections. Democracy thrives on votes,” he said, adding that the government could not keep running away from polls.
Meanwhile, Governor Balighur Rehman has said that the process for the dissolution of assembly would happen step by step, terming it to be a “lengthy process”.
Speaking at a ceremony in Lahore, he said that elections were bound to happen within 90 days of the assembly’s dissolution but noted that it would be Ramazan at that time.
“If we schedule the by-polls earlier, we won’t have enough time for preparations,” he said.
He added that the opposition leader in the PA would need to be consulted regarding the caretaker setup, adding that this process also “requires time”.
On Thursday evening, confusion abounded as the Elahi’s supposed one-line advice to the governor — written on a plain piece of paper — was circulated on social media with the date apparently having been overwritten.
However, over an hour later, a ‘genuine’ copy of the document (on the chief minister’s official letterhead) was shared by his son, PML-Q leader Moonis Elahi from his Twitter handle with the caption: “Promise fulfilled,” and addressing PTI chief Imran Khan, he wished: “May we see you back in PM seat soon.”
Meanwhile, the Governor House received the Punjab Assembly dissolution advice in a sealed envelope shortly after 10pm, as was confirmed by the governor himself in a tweet.
Geo News had earlier quoted the governor as saying that dissolving the assembly, which was the representative body of millions of people, would not be an easy decision to take, one he would undertake “with a heavy heart”.
Elahi had held a brief meeting with Imran at his Zaman Park residence in the evening prior to signing the much-awaited summary. He was accompanied by his son Rasikh Elahi and PML-Q MNA Hussain Elahi, while former defence minister Pervaiz Khattak was also present in the meeting.
Imran had earlier held a detailed meeting with his party’s senior leaders, who had insisted that the assembly should be dissolved without any delay in line with Mr Khan’s Nov 26 announcement of quitting Punjab and KP assemblies.
Discussing a possibility of the federal government showing reluctance in holding general elections in the next 90 days, as mandated under the Constitution, the PTI chairman reiterated his stance that the party would be least bothered if such a situation arises, as the federal ruling alliance would continue facing the public wrath.
Sources say the PML-Q legislators were not in favour of having the assembly dissolved and, cited multiple reasons for their reluctance — from ensuring elections in the two provinces are held within the stipulated timeframe of 90 days, the PDM government’s mood to the establishment’s role. In the latest scenario, the PML-Q’s nine MPAs, excluding Elahi, wanted that the PTI not field its candidates in the constituencies the returned from.