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LAHORE: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) MPA from PP-146-Lahore Muhammad Hamza Shehbaz Sharif was sworn in as 21st Chief Minister of Punjab here at the Governor House on Saturday amid stringent security measures adopted by the law-enforcing agencies.

Under the directions passed by the Lahore High Court vide order dated April 29, Speaker of National Assembly Raja Pervaiz Ashraf administered the oath to Hamza at a ceremony attended by the federal ministers, including Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan, Massadaq Malik, members of National and Punjab Assemblies, important political leaders including Maryam Nawaz, PML-N activists, and business leaders.

Before the oath-taking ceremony, the operating part of the Lahore High Court order was read out.

LHC asks NA Speaker to administer oath to Punjab CM-elect today

While the ceremony was underway, Governor Omar Sarfraz Cheema urged the chief justice to take notice of the “ghunda gardi” at the Governor House. He also said the “drama of a fake chief minister’s oath” was being performed in an “unconstitutional” manner.

“As the governor, I am not allowing the notification for the appointment of any unconstitutional and fake chief minister. The way they forcibly and deceitfully put up a drama of the oath-taking, they have now attempted to prepare a fake notification for it”, said Omar Cheema in a tweet.

Later, the Punjab chief secretary notified that Hamza had assumed the charge of the CM office. The notification stated that consequent upon the judgment of the Lahore High Court under writ petition no 27186 of 2022, Muhammad Hamza Shehbaz Sharif has taken the oath of the office of the Chief Minister of Punjab before the National Assembly Speaker on April 30.”

In a separate notification, the chief secretary notified that Sardar Usman Buzdar had ceased to hold the CM office. Interestingly, Usman Buzdar reached the Punjab Assembly with official protocol and left the premises without any protocol.

After taking the oath, Hamza visited the Chief Minister's office where he was presented with a guard of honour.

It may be noted that Hamza was elected as Punjab’s Chief Minister on April 16. However, his oath-taking was deferred twice despite the LHC’s directives not delaying the matter any further. Finally, he took the oath under the direction of the Lahore High Court.

After his election, Punjab Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz said that the CM’s post will remain dedicated to the real public service and providing relief to the people.

Hamza vowed to use his office for public welfare purposes only. He said he is fully aware of public issues and every second will be utilized for their solution.

He maintained that Governor Punjab blew the Constitution of the country into bits, as the people of the country’s most populous province were deprived of a chief minister; however, now with help of the allies, the province will move forward.

Earlier, Governor Punjab Omar Sarfraz Cheema in a strange move rejected Sardar Usman Buzdar’s resignation, deeming it not constitutionally valid. The governor informed Punjab Assembly Speaker Parvez Elahi of his decision in a letter, which stated that “in light of the recent developments and ensuing constitutional crisis, I feel that it would be unbecoming of the Governor’s office unless I bring to your notice the true and correct facts relating to the alleged resignation of Chief Minister Sardar Usman Ahmed Buzdar”.

In the letter, the governor maintained that under Article 130 (8) of the Constitution, the communication could not be treated as a letter of resignation as the said provision mandated that for a resignation letter to be valid, it had to be handwritten and addressed to the governor. It seemed Buzdar was not advised properly on the matter or there may be some other reasons for these errors “best known to him” (Buzdar).

He regretted that Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar, who was the Punjab governor when Buzdar had submitted his resignation, had not taken into consideration the implications of Article 130 (8).

“This is even though the mentioned gentleman in public gathering/press conference acknowledged these constitutional deficiencies as detailed herein above”, Omar Cheema said, adding that Buzdar’s communication was “erroneously treated” by Sarwar as a resignation.

The governor said after replacing Sarwar as the governor, he had sought the advice of the advocate general of Punjab on Buzdar’s resignation. He added that the advocate general had written a letter to him on April 18, expressing an opinion that was “startling”.

“According to him (advocate general), Buzdar’s resignation which was treated as a resignation and notified accordingly was utterly unconstitutional”.

He said in the advocate general’s opinion, that the resignation violated Article 130 (8). Moreover, Cheema continued, “the discussion inter se further highlighted that the subsequent notification was invalid in law because the very resignation and acceptance thereof violated the law”.

Omar Cheema went on to say that the “entire developments and the discharge of constitutional work of my office have been put in disruption. He said his stance was that Buzdar’s resignation was “not constitutionally valid, [and] all consequent steps taken thereupon including the notification of my predecessor notifying his resignation as such is invalid in law. The same is not endorsed by my office nor do I accept them as valid”.

He asked the PA speaker to take up the matter and act according to the provisions of the Constitution as deemed appropriate by him.

Moreover, Sardar Usman Buzdar reached the Punjab Assembly and spoke to the media, confirming the rejection of his resignation. He said he, too, had received a copy of Omar Cheema’s letter to the PA Speaker and that it would be discussed in the “Cabinet meeting” called on Saturday.

Buzdar declined to comment any further on the matter, saying that he would consult his legal team and the Cabinet.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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