Hamza Shehbaz
Hamza Shehbaz (C), the leader of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), arrives at the provincial assembly in Lahore on July 22, 2022. Image Credit: AFP

Islamabad: Pakistan Muslim League - Nawaz candidate Hamza Shehbaz Friday retained the office of the Punjab chief minister defeating Punjab Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi by a three-vote margin.

Following the counting of votes, Punjab Assembly Deputy Speaker Dost Muhammad Mazari, citing Article 63A of the Constitution, rejected 10 votes cast by PML-Q members. As a result, Hamza received 179 votes, while Elahi managed to bag 176 votes.

The vote was held to determine whether the province's sitting chief minister - Hamza Shehbaz, the son of the country's Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif - enjoyed the backing of the majority of lawmakers in the local parliament.

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan's party was sidelined in the key vote Friday, despite winning a byelection there earlier this week. Khan slammed the development and called on his supporters to rally across Pakistan.

Last Sunday, the bloc won 15 out of 20 seats that were up for grabs in the 371-member provincial assembly.

In Friday's vote, Khan's candidate for chief minister, Pervez Elahi, initially won 186 votes but the provincial assembly's deputy speaker, Dost Mohammad Mazari, invalidated 10 of those votes over violations of voting regulations.

In the end, Hamza Shehbaz won 179 votes Friday, retaining his post.

Khan claimed his opponents had resorted to political machinations in Punjab and called on his countrymen to rally against Mazari's ruling. By Friday night, protesters had started taking to the streets in major cities across Pakistan but the rallies remained peaceful.

- with inputs from AP