Just hours before the oath-taking ceremony of chief minister-elect Hamza Shehbaz Sharif, Punjab Governor Omar Sarfaraz Cheema, in a surprise move on Saturday, “rejected” the resignation of Usman Buzdar saying constitutional requirements were not fulfilled.
The development came after the orders of the Lahore High Court (LHC), directing National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf to administer the oath to Hamza Shahbaz today at 11:30 am.
Governor Cheema, in his letter to Punjab Assembly Speaker Pervaiz Elahi, stated that the March 28 resignation letter of Usman Buzdar was not in accordance with the rules as it was addressed to the prime minister and not to the governor which was mandatory as per sub-section 8 of Article 130 of the Constitution.
“The resignation was not addressed to the governor which was unconstitutional and thus rejected. Consequently, the provincial cabinet has been restored,” Cheema stated.
Buzdar had stepped down from his post last month after the PTI decided to nominate PML-Q’s Elahi as Punjab CM in return for the party’s support for a no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Imran Khan. Later, the then governor Chauhdry Mohammad Sarwar had accepted Buzdar’s resignation after meeting him.
Meanwhile, Usman Buzdar chaired the cabinet meeting at the Punjab Assembly.
Later, Buzdar spoke to the media, confirming the rejection of his resignation.
He said he, too, had received a copy of Governor Cheema’s letter to the PA speaker and that it would be discussed in the cabinet meeting.
Buzdar refused to comment any further on the matter, saying that he would consult his legal team and the cabinet.
Ministers Murad Raas and Mian Aslam Iqbal said that there’s no crisis in the province as Governor Cheema holds a constitutional office and he has taken a decision on the matter.
Security was tightened around Governor House for the oath-taking ceremony of Hamza Shehbaz. Roads leading to the Governor’s House were sealed to avoid any untoward situation.
EXPERTS OPINION: Meanwhile, Salman Akram Raja has said that this is not the right decision taken by Governor Cheema as once the resignation was accepted [by the former governor] the high court was informed and then the procedure of CM’s election was completed — which in legal terms is known as “past and closed transaction”.
The former governor had fulfilled his responsibility, and the attempts of Governor Cheema to reverse the clock backwards are not possible as the governor does not have such authority.
“Buzdar was working as the caretaker chief minister after his resignation; however, after Hamza takes the oath, it would be unconstitutional if the former continues to call himself the CM of the province,” he said, adding that the governor does not have the authority to withhold elections.
The legal expert said that Buzdar is trying to create a constitutional crisis because in that case the matter will be taken to the court.
“The matter will be taken to court and things will be further clarified in a day or two, however, a delay can be expected due to the Eid-ul-Fitr holidays,” he said. Raja, however, mentioned that cases are also heard during holidays in case of emergency.