Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s (PTI) Usman Buzdar was on Sunday elected as the Punjab chief minister.
During an election held in the Punjab Assembly, Buzdar secured 186 votes as compared to 159 votes polled in favour of PML-N’s Hamza Shahbaz Sharif.
Addressing the Punjab Assembly after his election, Buzdar said that he would like to tell the people questioning the merit of his nomination that his belonging to one of the poorest areas of Punjab qualifies him for the post.
“I understand the problems faced by people in those regions because I belong there, that is my merit,” the newly elected CM said.
Discussing his agenda for the province Buzdar said, “Our first priority is to bring good governance to Punjab. We will then move on to strengthening our institutions.”
He added: “I am promising today that we will break status quo. All our MPAs will be empowered and all of them will act like chief ministers in their own areas.”
Buzdar was already expected to win the election as the PTI had shown its strength in elections for the post of speaker and deputy speaker in the assembly.
The chief minister was elected through a head count. Around 345 out of total 354 MPAs cast their votes in the election. The PML-N MPAs were wearing black armbands in protest against alleged rigging in the July 25 election. They also recorded their protest and chanted slogans demanding the speaker to start the polling process.
PPP lawmakers did not cast their votes in the election for the chief minister. Earlier at least five out of total seven PPP members in the assembly, had left the assembly building without casting their votes. One PPP member opted to remain in the assembly but did not cast his vote.
Controversy around PTI’s Buzdar
Buzdar’s nomination turned controversial when reports surfaced that the CM contender had allegedly been involved in a murder case in 1998 filed after a clash broke out during local body polls, leaving six members of the Chakarani tribe ─ a sub-clan of the Buzdar tribe ─ dead.
Although the case was sent to an anti-terrorism court, a jirga was instrumental in reaching a settlement whereby compensation money of Rs7.5 million was paid to the heirs of the deceased.
However, PTI Chairman Imran Khan was quick to defend Buzdar, saying that he had handpicked the CM nominee after “due diligence over the past two weeks” and “found him to be an honest man”.
He added that Buzdar belonged to a under-developed area of Punjab, where there is “no water, electricity or hospital”.
Buzdar, he said, is “well acquainted with how people live in those areas, and secondly, he is aware of how the poor lead their lives. When he will assume the office of the chief minister he will know the nature of the plight that faces the underprivileged people of Pakistan.”
PTI Spokesperson Fawad Chaudhry also defended Buzdar, saying the case against him had been politically motivated.
Will register protest against rigging: Hamza
Hamza Shahbaz on Sunday vowed that the PML-N would register its protest against alleged rigging in the July 25 polls ─ both on the streets and in the assemblies.
He said that his party would continue to take part in the democratic process, but vowed to prevent a ‘rigged system’ from functioning.
Hamza demanded a parliamentary commission be constituted immediately to probe the allegations, DawnNewsTV reported.
Elahi against forward bloc
Elahi, while speaking to the media on Sunday, said that he is personally against the politics of forward blocs. He reminded the opposition that they would gain nothing through agitation and accused the opposition of not walking the talk: “Hindering democratic process is not a service to democracy,” he said.
Speaker, deputy speaker polls dominated by PTI
On Thursday, PTI-backed PML-Q leader Elahi was elected speaker with 201 votes — more than expected. Elahi was up against PML-N’s Iqbal Gujar, who received 147 votes ─ 15 less than expected. The PTI-backed candidate was expected to receive 185 votes, including 10 from the PML-Q, whereas the PML-N candidate was expected to get 162 votes.
The PPP boycotted the election, with MPA Hassan Murtaza citing the “PML-N’s attitude” toward his party as the reason behind the move.
PTI’s Dost Mazari also defeated PML-N’s Waris Kalo in the contest for deputy speaker, with Mazari securing 187 votes against Kalo’s 159 votes.