In an unexpected turn of events, Punjab Legislature Speaker Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi has once again called a meeting of the provincial assembly for today (Sunday), which is one day earlier than the date that had been previously set for the session. The gathering of the assembly had been scheduled to take place on May 30.
The date of the PA session has been moved about three times since the speaker first provided the date of May 16 when the assembly was supposed to gather in the first week of May. The most recent date adjustment occurred just a few days ago. The meeting was supposed to take place on the date that was provided, however, it was postponed to May 30 instead.
Pervaiz Elahi called the session of the assembly with only one day’s notice in light of the significant shift in the power dynamic inside the Punjab Assembly following the decision of the Election Commission of Pakistan to remove the dissident PTI MPAs from their seats.
It is important to point out at this time that the majority of the Punjabi legislators representing the more outlying districts are not likely to show up to the session that is taking place today.
Elahi, who just a day earlier made a statement saying that he would dissolve the PA within half an hour of getting elected as the CM, will serve as the session’s presider. Elahi’s statement said that he would do so within half an hour. Together, the PTI and the PML-Q, two opposition parties in the PA, have a combined strength of 168. (158 of PTI and 10 of PML-Q). If the vote of Mir Dost Muhammad Mazari, the deputy speaker who is backing the PML-N at this time, is deemed a negative contribution to the PTI tally, then the combined strength of the PTI and the PML-Q might drop to 167.
Since this would be the second round of voting for the Chief Minister, Hamza Shahbaz just needs to win the election by a margin of one vote if he is being asked to prove the majority in the House. He does not need to prove that there are 186 members of the House. Despite having a total of 166 MPAs, the PML-N has five members who are considered to be dissidents. Hamza wins the support of seven members of the People’s Party of Pakistan (PPP), four independents, and one member of the Rah-e-Haq Party, bringing the total number of members sitting on the Treasury Benches to 173 at this time. Hamza already had the support of 161 members of the House of Representatives.
It would appear that the PML-N is still in the lead in this competition; however, even if only two or three dissident MPAs resolved their disagreements with the parent party, it would be possible for the PML-N to continue in power, albeit with a reduced majority. It is expected that the PA speaker will make key choices about the vote of no confidence that was cast against both him and his deputy, despite the fact that both now represent opposing camps. Even more intriguing is the fact that Punjab does not presently have a governor, which means that in the event that the House of Representatives does adopt a bill, it might have to wait an additional two weeks to reach the governor, who is the one authorized to sign it.
As the temperature is high on both sides, there is a good chance that today’s PA session will be very loud. In addition to being criticized, a recent statement made by former Prime Minister Imran Khan about Maryam Nawaz has also been called into question, and the PML-N has introduced a motion in the PA to protest it.