Just hours after regaining the confidence of a majority of lawmakers in the Punjab Assembly, Chief Minister Chaudhry Parvez Elahi on Thursday formally advised the governor to dissolve the provincial legislature.
The move caps weeks of speculation, legal wrangling and a public spectacle of the differences between the ruling allies in Punjab — the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and PML-Q — over whether the assembly would be disbanded or not.
“I, Parvez Elahi Chief Minister Punjab, hereby advise you to dissolve the provincial assembly of Punjab,” reads the signed advice sent to the governor.
On Thursday evening, confusion abounded as the CM’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. InshaAllah.”
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 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”.
PTI stalwart Fawad Chaudhry said the summary had been sent to the governor requiring him to dissolve the assembly in 48 hours. “If the governor does not accept the advice within that time, the assembly will automatically stand dissolved,” he maintained.
Mr Chaudhry said the PTI would also write a letter to Opposition Leader in the Punjab Assembly Hamza Shehbaz in the next two weeks to return to Pakistan and discuss the appointment of an interim set-up, as required by the Constitution.
Fawad Chaudhry told the media that the KP Assembly would also be dissolved immediately and the nation head for elections in both provinces that made up 60 per cent of the provincial legislature in the country. “The PDM government should think prudently, decide an electoral framework and move towards nationwide elections to help the country attain political stability leading to economic stability,” he suggested.
The former minister said the PTI leadership as well as all its MNAs were urging the National Assembly speaker to accept their resignations and hold elections simultaneously with the provincial assembly polls.
Mr Chaudhry also thanked Chief Minister Elahi, his son Moonis, MNA Hussain Elahi and the PML-Q MPAs for standing by Imran Khan through thick and thin and facing all odds.
Earlier, Prime Minister’s Special Assistant Attaullah Tarar had said the government would announce its next strategy as soon as the governor received the CM’s advice.
Mr Elahi held a brief meeting with PTI Chairman Imran Khan at his Zaman Park residence in the evening where he later signed 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.
Mr Khan 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 Parvez Elahi, wanted that the PTI not field its candidates in the constituencies the returned from.
A source close to the chief minister, however, acknowledged that dissolving the assembly was a kind of an unexpected decision, but added it was PTI chief Khan’s prerogative and he exercised it.
The source said the PML-Q now expected the PTI would give its “loyal ally” a bigger share in seat adjustments.