Pervaiz Elahi calls Punjab Assembly session today ahead of schedule

  • Police reportedly detains DG for Parliamentary Affairs Rai Mumtaz.
  • Decision to summon PA session comes after ECP's decision on dissident MPAs.
  • Elahi condemns arrest of Rai Mumtaz
LAHORE: Punjab Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi has once again convened a meeting of the provincial assembly today (Sunday) in a surprise move ahead of the previous date fixed for the session, The News reported. The assembly was previously slated to meet on May 30. 

This is the third time that the date of the PA session has been changed as the speaker first gave the date of May 16 when the assembly was scheduled to meet in the first week of May. However, the session wasn't held on the given date and rescheduled for May 30.

Given the dramatic change in the numbers game in the PA after the Election Commission of Pakistan's decision to de-seat the dissident PTI MPAs, Elahi called the assembly meeting just on the notice of one day.

It is pertinent to mention here that most of the MPAs hailing from remote districts of Punjab are not expected to attend the session taking place today. The session will be presided over by Elahi, who just a day ago issued a statement that he would dissolve the PA within half an hour after getting elected as the CM. The PTI and the PML-Q, two opposition components in the PA, jointly form the strength of 168 (158 of PTI and 10 of PML-Q). If the vote of Mir Dost Muhammad Mazari, the deputy speaker who is supporting the PML-N now, is considered minus from the PTI tally, the joint PTI and PML-Q strength could reduce to 167.

Hamza Shahbaz, if asked to prove majority in the House, needs to win the election even by a margin of one vote and does not have to prove the 186 members figure, as it would be the second round of the CM election. The PML-N has a total of 166 MPAs, but five of its members are dissidents. With the safe support of 161 MPAs now, Hamza earns the support of seven PPP MPAs and four independents as well as one from the Rah-e-Haq Party, which takes the present treasury benches strength to 173.

The PML-N is still leading the contest apparently and if even two or three dissident MPAs end their differences with the parent party, the PML-N could survive, though not by a big margin. The PA speaker is expected to take important decisions concerning the no-confidence move against him as well as his deputy, though both represent rival camps now. The situation is also interesting because at present, Punjab has no governor and in case the House passes any bill, it could also wait for another two weeks to reach the governor who is the signing authority.

A very noisy PA session is expected today as the temperature is high on both sides. A recent statement of former prime minister Imran Khan regarding Maryam Nawaz has also been condemned and the PML-N has submitted a resolution in the PA against it.

Police detains Parliamentary Affairs DG ahead of session 

Meanwhile, Punjab Assembly Director General for Parliamentary Affairs Rai Mumtaz was detained by the police ahead of the session. Mumtaz's family alleged that the police raided their house and shifted him to an unknown location.

The Punjab Assembly spokesperson confirmed the reports of Mumtaz's detention, saying that the police leaped the walls of the DG's house. He said that the houses of PA Secretary Muhammad Khan Bhatti and Coordination Secretary Inayatullah were also raided.

Condemning the arrest and raids, Elahi said that every action is being taken at the behest of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.