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Chaos in Pak’s Punjab Assembly after PTI members attack deputy speaker

Ruckus erupted in Pakistan’s Punjab Assembly on Saturday as lawmakers from the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) manhandled Deputy Speaker Dost Muhammad Mazari when he arrived to chair the crucial session agreed to elect the new chief minister of the province.

The lawmakers from the ex-prime minister Imran Khan’s party attacked Mazari and pulled his hair for changing his loyalty.

TV footage showed Mazari was slapped, punched and dragged by the PTI members before the security guards managed to rescue him.

The PTI lawmakers brought “lotas” to the house and started chanting “lota, lota” (turncoats) as they lashed out at dissident PTI lawmakers who parted ways with the party and decided to support the Opposition.

They said they would not allow 24 dissident members of their party to cast the vote in the chief minister’s election.

A tough competition is expected between the two candidates — Hamza Shahbaz and Parvez Elahi. Hamza, the son of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, is the joint candidate of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PMl-N) and other coalition parties, while PML-Q’s Elahi is being backed by the PTI.

If the rebel PTI members are allowed to cast their vote, Hamza is certain to get elected as the chief minister.

As the situation got out of control, the police deployed outside the assembly entered the House.

Elahi and other members protested and termed it a violation of the sanctity of the House.

“In Pakistan’s history, police have never entered the Punjab Assembly. We will summon the Inspector General Police of Punjab and punish him for a month under the law,” he said.

The proceedings have been suspended for some time even as Mazari said he would summarize the session and conduct the election for the chief minister at any cost on Saturday.

“Those who attacked me want martial law in Pakistan but they will not succeed,” Mazari told reporters.

The Lahore High Court on Friday had directed the deputy speaker to conduct the election in a free and fair manner on Saturday. A candidate needs 186 votes in the 371-member House to become the chief minister.

In the Punjab Assembly, the PTI has 183 lawmakers, its ally PML-Q has 10. PML-N has 165, the PPP seven, while five are independent and one belongs to Rah-i-Haq.

Responding to the criticism for naming his son as Punjab’s chief Minister, Prime Minister Shehbaz said: “I don’t want to make my son CM. In fact, we had offered this slot to Parvez Elahi but he refused to join hands with us” .

The PML-N had kept 24 PTI dissident members of the Punjab Assembly in a hotel for two weeks so that they could not be approached by ex-prime minister Imran Khan and his party leaders to woo them back.

Prime Minister Shehbaz has condemned the attack on the Punjab Assembly’s deputy speaker and demanded the smooth election of the new chief minister of the province which has been without its chief executive for two weeks.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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