Hamza Shehbaz became Punjab chief minister after taking oath at a ceremony held at the Governor’s House in Lahore on Saturday, just hours after Governor Omar Sarfraz Cheema rejected Usman Buzdar’s resignation, deeming it “not constitutionally valid”.

In unprecedented circumstances in the history of Pakistan, National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf administered oath to Hamza while Buzdar cabinet meeting was convened while guests were arriving at the Governor’s House to attend oath taking ceremony.

The ceremony eventually began with the recitation of the Holy Quran and a naat, after which Hamza — clad in a sherwani — was sworn in as the chief executive of Punjab, picking up a mantle held three times by his father, Shehbaz Sharif.

While the ceremony was underway, Governor Cheema urged the chief justice to take notice of the situation at the Governor’s House. He also said the “drama of a fake chief minister’s oath” was being performed in an “unconstitutional” manner.

Later, the Punjab chief secretary notified that Hamza had assumed the charge of the chief minister’s office.

The notification stated: “Consequent upon the judgement of the Lahore High Court under writ petition no. 27186 of 2022, Mr Muhammad Hamza Shahbaz Sharif has taken the oath of the office of the chief ministry of Punjab before speaker, National Assembly on 30th day of April, 2022.”

In a separate notification, the chief secretary notified that Buzdar had ceased to hold the CM office.

“Consequent upon assumption of office of chief minister of Punjab by Mr Muhammad Hamza Shahbaz Sharif on 30th April, 2022, Mr Usman Ahmed Khan Buzdar, chief minister of Punjab under provision of Article 133 of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973, has ceased to hold office with immediate effect,” the notification read.

However, Cheema termed the notification for Hamza’s assumption of the CM office “fake”.

“As the governor, I am not allowing the notification for the appointment of any unconstitutional and fake chief minister. The way they forcibly and deceitfully put up a drama of the oath-taking, they have now attempted to prepare a fake notification for it,” he tweeted.

Hamza was elected as the Punjab CM on April 16, during a provincial assembly session that was marred by mayhem and violence. His oath-taking, however, faced delays after Punjab Governor Omar Sarfraz Cheema refused to administer the oath to him, questioning the validity of his election.

Subsequently, Hamza had approached the Lahore High Court on April 21, which instructed President Alvi to appoint a representative to administer the oath in the absence of the governor.

However, after a delay by the president in following the court’s directive, Hamza moved the court again on April 25. This time, he had asked the LHC to instruct Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani to administer oath to him. In his ruling, LHC Chief Justice Ameer Bhatti had directed Governor Cheema to complete Hamza’s oath-taking process by April 28.

When the president and governor still failed to follow the court’s instructions, Hamza sought the LHC’s intervention for a third time on Friday.

In his third petition, Hamza prayed the court to “kindly direct the administration of oath to the chief minister-elect by a person nominated by this honourable court at the Governor House at a specified time and the coercive arm of the state be set in motion for implementation of the orders of this honourable court”.

On Friday, the LHC directed the NA speaker to administer the oath to Hamza Shehbaz.

In a late-night development the same day, the Punjab government announced that the oath-taking ceremony would be held at 10.30 am at Governor House.

Meanwhile, Punjab Assembly Speaker and PML-Q leader Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi said he would challenge the LHC’s decision on Hamza’s third plea.

He told a leading news channel that “if the courts open in the morning, then our lawyers will go and appear before the court. The decision will be challenged tomorrow (Saturday).”

Elahi, who was the other contender for the Punjab CM position, had boycotted the election for the province’s chief executive.

Timeline of events from election to oath-taking

  • Hamza was elected as the Punjab chief minister on April 16
  • On April 17, Punjab Governor Omar Sarfraz Cheema postponed the oath-taking ceremony.
  • Hamza approached Lahore High Court on April 21, which instructed President Arif Alvi to appoint a representative to administer the oath in the absence of the governor.
  • However, after a delay by the president, Hamza filed another application on April 25.
  • On April 27, the LHC directed Governor Cheema to complete Hamza’s oath-taking process by April 28.
  • When the president and governor still failed to follow the court’s instructions, Hamza sought the LHC’s intervention for a third time on April 29.
  • In its ruling, LHC directed the NA speaker to administer the oath to Hamza on April 30.
  • Hours before the ceremony, Governor Cheema, in a surprise move, “rejected” the resignation of Usman Buzdar.

Who is Hamza Shehbaz?

Hamza Shehbaz Sharif is the eldest son of Shehbaz Sharif, the prime minister of Pakistan.

He was born on September 6, 1974, in Lahore, as per the website of the Punjab Assembly. He graduated from the Government College, Lahore, and then went on to complete his L.L.B from the London School of Economics.

Sharif, officially, began his political career after the military takeover of General Pervaiz Musharraf in the late 1990s.

In 2008, he contested for the seat of the Punjab Assembly, as an independent candidate, as well as for the National Assembly. While he lost the provincial election to Salman Rafique, he became a member of the National Assembly from 2008 to 2013 and again from 2013 to 2018.

In 2018, he contested and won one National Assembly seat and one from Punjab. He later decided to retain his provincial constituency.

The same year, Hamza was fielded by the opposition as a candidate for chief minister Punjab, but he lost to Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf candidate Usman Buzdar and appointed as the leader of the opposition in the Punjab Assembly. He is the vice president of his party, the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-N.

In his 2018 election nomination papers, he declared two wives, Mehrunissah Hamza and Rabia Hamza.

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