ISLAMABAD: Former Punjab governor Omar Sarfraz Cheema threatened the government on Wednesday that a “justice safeguard movement” similar to that of 2007 could be launched against his “unlawful removal” from office earlier this week .
Addressing a press conference on Wednesday, Mr Cheema described the current leadership as a “Sicilian mafia” and said they should not be allowed to name the next army chief.
“In case no solution is offered to end the crisis prevailing in Punjab, we will opt for a protest campaign like in 2007 when the whole nation took to the streets,” he said.
“I am consulting with different groups including the legal community, media and civil society to launch a similar movement under which former Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry was reinstated in 2007,” he added. .
Mr Cheema said he would not sit idle like former Chief Minister Usman Buzdar and would resist all attempts to remove him.
Earlier this week, the Federal Government, in a late night announcement, informed that Mr Cheema had ceased to serve as Governor of Punjab on the advice of the Prime Minister sent to the President on April 17 and strengthened the May 1.
The president, Dr Arif Alvi, had previously rejected Prime Minister Sharif’s advice to sack Mr Cheema.
In his presser on Wednesday, Mr Cheema claimed he was still the governor of Punjab and thanked President Alvi for continuously supporting him.
“Although my security, vehicles and other facilities have been removed, I am still the governor and I want to make it clear that I will not be resigning because [former] CM Punjab Usman Buzdar did it,” he added.
Shortly after the notification from the cabinet division in the early hours of Tuesday, Mr. Cheema’s security and official vehicles were removed and he was barred from entering the Governor House.
He said he had been writing letters to affected neighborhoods over the past 37 days, informing the nation that the Pakistani Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government at the center had plunged the country’s largest province into the crisis.
He even claimed Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) leader Usman Buzdar was still the province’s chief minister as his resignation had been accepted “unconstitutionally”.
“Former Punjab governor Chaudhry Sarwar had hastily accepted his resignation as the governor had already joined the PML-N camp,” he said.
The acceptance of Mr. Buzdar’s resignation by Mr. Sarwar was challenged in the Lahore High Court (LHC) on April 20, but the court dismissed the petition. “Punjab has two chief ministers these days,” Mr Cheema said.
Mr Cheema said the PML-N lawyers misled the court on the issue of the swearing in of outgoing Punjab Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz and urged the bar councils to act against these lawyers.
He said that after his security was withdrawn, he asked Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah for security guards from the Rangers or the Frontier Constabulary, but his request was denied.
Mr. Sanaullah “does not behave like the country’s interior minister and rather behaves like a PML-N worker”, Mr. Cheema said.
Posted in Dawn, May 12, 2022