Naqvi’s (above) name was proposed by the Opposition Leader in the Punjab Assembly Hamza Shehbaz Image Credit: APP

ISLAMABAD: A petition has been filed in the Supreme Court of Pakistan (SCP) challenging the appointment of senior journalist Mohsin Raza Naqvi as the caretaker chief minister of Punjab by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

Naqvi’s name was proposed by the Opposition Leader in the Punjab Assembly Hamza Shehbaz. Former Prime Minister and Chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and his key ally ex-Chief Minister of Punjab Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi had announced to challenge the appointment in the apex court.

The petition has been moved by PTI Secretary General Asad Umar calling upon the top court to stop Naqvi from working as the caretaker chief minister.

In the same petition, the petitioner also challenged the appointment of the members of the ECP as well as the Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Raja Riaz.

The federal government, the National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervez Ashraf, Leader of the Opposition Raja Riaz, the governments of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), the Election Commission of Pakistan, and Punjab caretaker CM Mohsin Naqvi have been made parties in the petition.

No political, administrative experience

According to the petition, Mohsin Naqvi does not have the necessary “intellectual and relative experience as well as the characteristics” needed to be appointed at the top slot in the province.

Some equal or better-suited candidates were available but were not considered consciously, the petition says.

The petition also states that Naqvi has no political, administrative or legal experience in ensuring the rule of law, the working of governments, bureaucracy, the requirements of law and/ or the Constitution.

“How the issue of his suitability has been decided so as to result in a ‘unanimous’ communication of the Respondent Commission appointing him as the caretaker Chief Minister, is not manifest and in negation to the mandate of the Constitution.”

“It is asserted categorically and without reservation that there is not an iota of record which would justify the Respondent No. 7’s appointment as the caretaker Chief Minister of Punjab,” it added.

Awami Muslim League (AML) leader and former Federal Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed has also challenged Naqvi’s appointment as the interim CM of Punjab.

Interim cabinets in Punjab, KP sworn in

Meanwhile, amidst the growing criticism by the PTI and its allies, Governors of Punjab and KP have completed the caretaker set up administering oath to the interim cabinets in the two provinces.

Governor KP Haji Ghulam Ali a day earlier administered oath to 15 caretaker ministers while in Lahore too, Punjab Governor Muhammad Balighur Rehman administered oath to the 8-member caretaker cabinet.

In KP’s interim set-up, Manzoor Afridi, whose name is proposed by Maulana Fazlur Rehman’s Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) will be sworn in later as he is currently abroad.

ECP recommends dates for elections in Punjab, KP

Administering oath to the caretaker ministers is part of the legal procedure in the wake of the dissolution of the provincial assemblies and with oath-taking of first the caretaker CMs and then their interim ministers that major requirement has been fulfilled.

Meanwhile, the electoral watchdog, the ECP has recommended to the Punjab and the KP governors to conduct elections between April 9 and 13, 2023 and April 15-17, 2023 respectively.