CM Hamza Shahbaz’s votes to be recounted, excluding PTI dissidents

LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Thursday issued a verdict instructing the authorities to recount the votes of Punjab’s chief minister election, excluding the votes of 25 dissident Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf MPAs.

A five member bench of the Lahore High Court announced the verdict with a 4-1 majority. The bench comprised of Justice Sadaqat Ali Khan, Justice Shahid Jamil Khan, Justice Shehram Sarwar Chaudhry, Justice Sajid Mahmood Sethi and Justice Tariq Saleem Sheikh

In the verdict, the LHC ordered a re-counting of the votes of the election held on April 16 excluding the votes of 25 dissident PTI lawmakers. It was further ordered that if Hamza Shahbaz was unable to procure the required majority of 186 votes, a re-election for the chief minister’s office will be held again under Article 130(4), unless another candidate has majority votes

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The court further said that Hamza Shahbaz Sharif will cease to be chief minister if he is not able to secure the required majority after the exclusion of 25 votes of the dissident PTI MPAs by the presiding officer.

A Punjab Assembly session will be conducted on July 2 at 4pm for the re-counting of votes, and if necessary for a re-election in case Hamza Shahbaz was not able to secure the required majority.

The LHC emphasized that the session cannot be adjourned until completion of the election process and until the presiding officer did not intimate the result of the elected chief minister to the governor. The court directed that the governor shall immediately perform his duties and administer the oath before 11am the very next day.

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The court warned that any attempt of disorder from any quarter shall be deemed a contempt of court and shall be proceeded accordingly accordingly by this larger bench on formal information by any person.

After the ouster of former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s coalition government by a no-confidence motion staged by the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), a vote was held in the Punjab assembly to elect a new chief minister of the province. In the vote, Hamza Shahbaz Sharif, with the help of 25 dissident PTI lawmakers, was successful in ousting former chief minister Sardar Usman Buzdar and assumed office himself.

After the LHC’s recent verdict, it is unclear whether Hamza Shahbaz Sharif will be able to survive as chief minister or not. The 25 dissident PTI MPAs, who were de-seated by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on May 20, were crucial to Sharif’s success. With the PTI lawmakers having been dismissed from office, a big challenge lies ahead for Hamza Shahbaz and his party the Pakistan Muslim League (N).