President, PM again lock horns over Punjab governor issue

Nausheen Yusuf
Sunday, May 22, 2022

ISLAMABAD: The tussle between President Arif Alvi and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on the issue of appointing Punjab governor is deepening as neither is ready to accept other’s advice and both have conflicting views. Thus, the issue still lingers on.

President Arif Alvi Saturday reiterated that Governor Punjab Omar Sarfraz Cheema still holds the office, urging Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to reconsider his advice about the appointment of the new governor as there was no occasion to propose a new appointment.

In response to the premier’s summary about appointing a new governor, the president reiterated that "the governor shall hold office during the pleasure of the president”, as envisaged by Article 101 (2) of the Constitution. According to a statement issued by the President's Secretariat, the president added that the present circumstances demanded that the incumbent governor should continue to hold that position.

“The principled stand of the governor had been vindicated by the recent pronouncement of the Supreme Court of Pakistan on May 17, 2022, on Reference No 1 of 2022, moved by the president of Pakistan,” the statement read. He underscored that the stance of Cheema was further augmented by the decision of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), on May 20, 2022, declaring the defection and changing loyalties of 25 members of provincial Assembly Punjab (MPAs) in the election of the chief minister, Punjab as the “worst form of betraying the electorate and party’s policy”. He maintained that the 25 defecting MPAs had ceased to be members of the Punjab Assembly, as per ECP’s decision.

Meanwhile, sources further told Geo News that the premier has responded to the president’s letter, asserting that Baligh Ur Rehman will be the governor of Punjab.

According to sources, if the president does not respond within 10 days, Rehman will take oath as governor of Punjab as the summary has been sent to the president for the second time.

The governor had triggered a constitutional crisis after he refused to administer the oath to Chief Minister Punjab Hamza Shehbaz.

Meanwhile, in the statement, the president said that the incumbent governor could not be removed as there was neither any allegation of misconduct nor conviction by any court of law or of any act committed by him contrary to the Constitution of Pakistan. "It is my duty as Head of the State to represent the unity of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan in terms of Article 41 of the Constitution," the president told the premier.

Giving another reason for rejecting the prime minister's advice, he stated that he was convinced that the removal of the governor would be "unfair and against the norms of justice."