House calls for holding early elections to bring country out of ‘worsening political, economic crises’ n Approves bill to give powers of PA to assembly secretary n Deputy Speaker Wasiq Qayyum takes oath.

LAHORE    -   The Punjab Assembly on Sun­day passed a resolution call­ing for resignations of ‘biased’ Chief Election Commission­er (CEC) Sikander Sultan Raja and Election Commission of Pakistan officials.

The development came a day after the Pakistan Teh­reek-e-Insaf (PTI) decided to file a ‘judicial reference’ against the CEC and other members of the ECP for al­legedly violating the code of conduct by holding a meeting with the government delega­tion earlier this week.

The provincial legislature in the resolution expressed a lack of confidence in the ECP mem­bers including the CEC and demanded their resignations on the basis of “concrete evi­dence” to allow the electoral watchdog to hold transparent elections. The resolution also condemned the ouster of the PTI-led government in the Cen­tre via “foreign conspiracy”. It said that early and transparent

 general elections are the only solu­tion to bring the country out of the worsening political and economic crises. The house also approved a bill to give the powers of the Punjab As­sembly to the secretary of the assem­bly. Under the previous PML-N gov­ernment, the powers were handed over to the law secretary.

Earlier, the session of the provincial assembly began with newly-elect­ed Speaker Sibtain Khan adminis­tering the oath to his deputy Wasiq Qayyum. Qayyum was elected unop­posed a day earlier after the Opposi­tion announced a boycott of the polls.

In Sunday’s address, Speaker Sibtain Khan told the assembly that his deputy was elected after no one else submitted their nomination pa­pers. After the oath was adminis­tered, PTI lawmaker Syed Abbas Shah presented the motion against the Election Commission of Pakistan’s chief, which was later approved by the assembly. After the motion was passed, the assembly was adjourned till August 15.

Imran Khan-led PTI took control of the Punjab Assembly along with their ally PML-Q following the Supreme Court’s intervention in the chief min­ister’s election. After taking charge, in a meeting chaired by Khan on Sat­urday, the PTI announced that it had decided to file a disqualification ref­erence in the Supreme Judicial Coun­cil (SJC) against CEC Raja for meet­ing the coalition parties that have formed a government at the centre.

In the same meeting, the PTI decid­ed that provincial governments would also take action against the ECP and the provincial assemblies — in Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa — would pass no-confidence resolutions against the ECP. PTI Information Secretary Far­rukh Habib later issued a statement and said the party had made prepara­tions for filing a disqualification refer­ence in the SJC against the CEC.