Ministers’ alleged threats to PTI lawmakers on SC radar

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ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court will take up on Thursday a contempt of court petition against Punjab Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz, federal Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah and Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb for allegedly threatening to make PTI MPAs disappear before the July 22 election for a new CM.

The petitioner — Punjab Assembly Speaker Parvez Elahi — recalled a press conference addressed by the two ministers on Monday (July 18) in which Rana Sanaullah said: “We will not let Elahi become the CM easily. If five to seven PTI lawmakers don’t come to the (Punjab) assembly on the voting day (July 22), how will the PTI have its chief minister.”

The petition was taken up by a two-judge Supreme Court bench, consisting of Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Munib Akhtar on Wednesday. Soon after the hearing started, the court asked Babar Awan, Mr Elahi’s counsel, to furnish a transcript of the press conference.

After the counsel complied with the SC order, the apex court decided to begin hearing the petition on Thursday (today).

Parvez Elahi, the petitioner, accused the respondents of violating the July 1 Supreme Court order that Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz must remain within the confines of the Constitution and the law “without incidence of harassment of political opponents or witch-hunting” in the run-up to the election for next head of the provincial government on July 22.

The petitioner argued the PTI and its allies had secured a comfortable majority in Punjab Assembly after the July 17 by-elections for 20 seats and were in a position to form the provincial government.

The results have unnerved the PML-N and its cadres “are now resorting to unconstitutional and unlawful actions”.

“They (Rana Sanaullah and other PML-N officials) are hreatening to `disappear’ members (Punjab MPAs) belonging to the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and its allies,” the petition said.

The statement of Rana Sanaullah in his press conference of July 18 anounts to “obstructing implementation of the court’s order” and threatens to “deprive the people of Punjab of representation in governance”, Parvez Elahi observed in his petition.

“The threatening statements by the incumbent interior minister have instilled fear in the ranks of PTI and its allies.”