PML-N leader Hamza Shehbaz elected Punjab Chief Minister in session marred by violence
Lahore, Apr 16: Hamza Shehbaz, the son of Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, was elected as the new chief minister of Punjab on Saturday in a ruckus-marred election that saw Imran Khan-led Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party and its ally PML-Q boycott the crucial assembly session.
Scuffles broke out between the treasury and opposition leaders during the six-hour-long session in the Punjab Assembly. PTI-PMLQ coalition candidate Parvez Elahi sustained injuries while Deputy Speaker Dost Muhammad Mazari, who was siding with the PMLN-PPP candidate Hamza, also got thrashed. Police arrested three PTI lawmakers on the charges of torturing Mazari.
Deputy speaker Mazari announced the result in which Hamza bagged 197 votes.
A candidate required 186 votes in the 371-member House to become the chief minister of Punjab, the country's second largest province.
Hamza, 48, is the eldest son of Shehbaz. He is on bail in the Rs 14 billion money-laundering case which is being probed by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA). He served 20 months in jail before getting released on bail in Ramzan Sugar Mills and money laundering cases by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) last year.
His opponent Elahi and his supporting lawmakers boycotted the election because of hooliganism. Of the total votes cast, Hamza managed to secure 24 votes of the dissident PTI lawmakers.
Throughout the session, both sides engaged in altercations, hindering the process of the election of the chief minister for several hours.
Earlier, ruckus erupted in Punjab Assembly as lawmakers from the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) manhandled Deputy Speaker Mazari when he arrived to chair the crucial session convened to elect the new chief minister of the province.
The lawmakers from the ex-prime minister Imran Khan's party attacked Mazari and pulled his hair for changing his loyalty.
TV footage showed Mazari was slapped, punched and dragged by the PTI members before the security guards managed to rescue him.
"Those who attacked me want martial law in Pakistan but they will not succeed," Mazari told reporters.
The PTI lawmakers brought "lotas" to the house and started chanting "lota, lota" (turncoats) as they lashed out at dissident PTI members who parted ways with the party and decided to support the Opposition.
Before the session resumed, another scuffle broke out between the Elahi and Hamza supporters in the House in which Elahi was injured. His hand is said to have been broken.
"I am tortured at the behest of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif," Elahi alleged.
"They have rewarded me well in return for my goodness," he said.
They crossed all lines today trying to manhandle me in an attempt to "finish me", Elahi was quoted as saying by Geo News.
Talking about the fight in the assembly, Speaker Elahi claimed that Hamza was giving orders to "hit" the members.
"I took care of him when his family was in exile," he said.
As the situation got out of control after the first fight when Mazari was attacked, the police deployed outside the assembly entered the House.
Elahi and other members protested and termed it a violation of the sanctity of the House.
"In Pakistan's history, police have never entered the Punjab Assembly. We will summon the Inspector General Police of Punjab and punish him for a month under the law," he said.
The Lahore High Court on Friday had directed the deputy speaker to conduct the election in a free and fair manner on Saturday.
In the Punjab Assembly, the PTI has 183 lawmakers, its ally PML-Q has 10. PML-N has 165, the PPP seven, while five are independent and one belongs to Rah-i-Haq.