Punjab Assembly official reportedly arrested ahead of today’s session

Punjab Assembly Secretary Coordination Rai Mumtaz.

May 22, 2022

A Punjab Assembly official was reportedly taken into police custody on Sunday ahead of today’s hurriedly called session.

A spokesperson for the Punjab Assembly confirmed reports of the arrest of Secretary Coordination Rai Mumtaz. In a statement, the spokesperson claimed that police officials entered Mumtaz’s home after scaling the walls.

He alleged that police officials also conducted a raid at the home of Punjab Assembly Secretary Muhammad Khan Bhatti and Director General (Parliamentary Affairs & Research) Inayatullah Lak, but were unable to arrest the two.

Speaker Chaudhry Parvez Elahi condemned the police action and claimed that it was being carried out on the orders of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif. He also termed the government’s actions “fascist”.

“After violating the sanctity of the House, the government is making use of new tactics,” he said, adding that the action against officials of the Punjab Assembly was proof that the government was “panicking”.

“The unconstitutional and fake government is taking steps against the Constitution and law,” he stated, adding that the “true face” of the Sharifs had been unmasked before the people.

A number of police personnel were deployed outside the assembly gates, equipped with riot control gear. “Let’s see who prevents the elected members from entering the assembly,” Elahi said.

He directed MPAs to reach the Assembly Secretariat by 12 o’clock. The session is expected to begin half an hour afterwards.

“We will fight against government fascism,” he stressed. “No one can stop the elected representatives from entering the assembly.”

On Saturday, Elahi had rescheduled the assembly session from May 30 to May 22 (today), after 25 dissident PTI MPAs who had voted for Hamza Shehbaz for CM office against their party direction were de-seated.

Though no formal agenda was issued till Saturday evening, the swift action by Speaker Elahi shows the numbers game now suits him for his run-off election as chief minister.

The assembly’s current strength has reduced to 346 members after the de-seating of the 25 MPAs. The PML-N has 165 MPAs of whom five Sharaqpuri group members recently withdrew their support. Besides the backing of its 160 MPAs, the PML-N has seven PPP MPAs, four independents and one Rah-i-Haq Party MPA on its side. This shows PML-N has 172 votes.

On the other hand, Elahi’s PML-Q and his ally PTI have a total strength of 168, but the PTI-PML-Q alliance believes they will get all the five women and minority seats whereas the PML-N claims two reserved seats will come to it.

Dawn

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