President Arif Alvi on Monday firmly denied Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s recommendation that Punjab Governor Omar Sarfaraz Cheema is removed from office.
President Alvi has informed Prime Minister Narendra Modi that the Punjab governor cannot be replaced without his agreement, according to a statement from the President’s Secretariat.
“He emphasized that the Governor shall hold office until the pleasure of the President,” according to the statement, referring to clause 3 of Article 101 of the Constitution.
Last Monday, the Shehbaz-led cabinet wrote a report to the president requesting Cheema’s resignation and nominating Baligh-ur-Rehman for governor.
Since Imran Khan gave him the office during his last days in power, incumbent Governor Cheema has been generating headaches for the PML-N in Punjab. After being denied to deliver the oath to Chief Minister of Punjab Hamza Shehbaz, the governor sparked a constitutional crisis.
After the Lahore High Court directed NA Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf to administer the oath to Hamza, he was ultimately sworn in.
Cheema had previously said that if “a subedar and four troops” were supplied, he would arrest Punjab Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz Sharif, and had also requested Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa to play his “part” in the execution of the Constitutional framework in Punjab.
Meanwhile, the president stated in a statement that the existing governor could not be dismissed since there was no charge of wrongdoing or conviction by a court of law of any act performed by him that was contradictory to Pakistan’s Constitution.
“As Head of State, it is my responsibility to represent the unity of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan in accordance with Article 41 of the Constitution,” the president informed the prime minister.
Another reason he said for rejecting the prime minister’s suggestion was that he believed the governor’s dismissal would be “unfair and against the rules of justice.”
The president emphasized that the governor must continue to serve his office in order to encourage and promote a healthy and clean democratic system in which members are not coerced or bought to bring about illegitimate change, and that Article 63(A) of the Constitution “specifically discourages such activities.”
In these “tough circumstances,” the president said that he is “dedicated” to upholding the constitution’s provisions.
The president emphasized the governor’s constitutional responsibility, saying that the governor had already provided a report detailing the terrible events in the Punjab Assembly, issues about the legitimacy of ex-CM Punjab Usman Buzdar’s resignation, and changing loyalties.