President Dr Arif Alvi accepted the appointment of PML-N supporter Balighur Rehman as the new Punjab governor on Monday, breaking a weeks-long impasse with the prime minister over the constitutional office’s occupant.
The move comes after the president twice refused to give his approval to the prime minister’s nominees, claiming that Omar Sarfraz Cheema, who was de-notified by the federal government earlier this month, still held the position of Punjab governor because he (the president) had not approved his removal.
The Islamabad High Court is now hearing a lawsuit to determine whether the president has constitutional authority to overturn the prime minister’s decision to remove a governor. However, the president’s action may render those proceedings obsolete.
In accordance with Article 101 (1) of the Constitution, Alvi authorised the nomination based on Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s advice, according to a tweet from the President’s Office.
Rehman was previously the federal education minister and was elected to the National Assembly in 2013.
Despite the president’s opposition, Rehman’s predecessor, PTI’s Omar Sarfraz Cheema, was removed from office on May 9.
Cheema was named governor on April 3, only days before the PTI-led government of Imran Khan was deposed in a no-confidence motion. Cheema had frequently refused to swear in PML-Hamza N’s Shehbaz as Punjab chief minister during his brief tenure in office.
On April 17, Prime Minister Shehbaz forwarded a report of Cheema’s removal to the president, notwithstanding Cheema’s assertion that the prime minister lacked the right to dismiss him and that only the president could do so.
PM Shehbaz has suggested Makhdoom Ahmad Mahmood of the PPP as Punjab governor in that brief. When President Alvi returned the summary after keeping it for 15 days without making a decision, the premier re-endorsed the recommendation on May 1, asking for Cheema’s ouster and the appointment of PML-N supporter Balighur Rehman from Bahawalpur in his place.
The president, on the other hand, had rejected the second summary and informed the prime minister that the governor could not be removed without his consent and would continue to “hold office until the pleasure of the president,” as stipulated in Article 101, clause 3.
Following that, the federal government informed Cheema that he had ceased to hold office in a late-night declaration on May 9 based on the prime minister’s advice submitted to the president on April 17 and repeated on May 1.
Cheema has filed an appeal with the IHC, with the next hearing scheduled for May 31.