ISLAMABAD - A day after Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan Muslim League (PML-Q) regained power in Punjab, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah on Wednesday warned of imposition of governor’s rule in the country’s largest populous province.

He said that the federal government would be compelled to do this if a ban was imposed on his entry in Punjab—a reference to the last week’s statement of PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry that the party would ban entry of Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah and Ataullah Tarar ( ex-Punjab home minister)  in the province if recaptured power there.

The PTI quickly reacted to the statement saying that the talks of the imposition of governor’s rule were shameful after the judgments of the Supreme Court that struck down the election of Hamza Shehbaz as chief minister of Punjab. The opposition party in the centre also said that the interior minister was perhaps not aware of the constitutional laws under which such a step could be taken.

Legal experts say that the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz would not be able to impose governor’s rule in Punjab as the 18th Constitutional Amendment has not only made it very difficult to take such an action but also the ground realities were not in favour of the ruling coalition in this connection.

Speaking at a press conference here, the interior minister said that a summary was already being drafted by the Ministry of Interior to impose the governor’s rule. “If my entry is restricted, it will provide grounds for governor’s rule.”

Rana Sanaullah said that the president would be bound to accept the advice of the prime minister on governor’s rule, otherwise it would be deemed to have been accepted after 10 days.

Talking on the country’s deteriorating economic situation, he said that the ongoing political instability was a matter of concern as the exchange rate of US dollar was continuously increasing against the Pakistani rupee.

He blamed the PTI’s protests for increasing economic woes of the country, adding that the Supreme Court’s verdict has destabilised the situation further.

He went on to say that even a second-grader would interpret Article 63-A of the Constitution, which is related to the disqualification of lawmakers over defection, and would say that the votes of dissident lawmakers should be counted in the election of prime minister or chief minister.

Interior minister says govt to introduce judicial reforms to “regulate” judiciary’s authority

The ECP in its verdict had de-seated as many 25 dissident lawmakers of PTI on the grounds that they did not follow instructions of the party head, whereas the SC has stated that the instructions of parliamentary party head should be followed.  He said that there were contradictions in both the decisions.

The interior minister predicted that the interpretation of Article 63-A made by the apex court would not sustain. “It is not the SC’s authority to rewrite the Constitution and we will defend the parliament’s authority,” he said, adding; only the parliament has the powers to amend the Constitution.

He said that the ruling coalition was going to introduce judicial reforms and added that the incumbent government did not seek to curb the judiciary’s authority but wanted to “regulate” it. “No one is talking of limiting its authority,” he said.

He also said had the Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial formed benches in consensus and consultation with fellow judges, they might not have seen a letter of Justice Qazi Faez Isa circulating in the media.

He also claimed that PML-N leader and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif would return to Pakistan to lead the election campaign once the general elections were called.

On the other hand, PTI’s   information secretary Farrukh Habib, in response to the presser of the interior minister, said that those who talked about imposition of governor’s rule in Punjab should bear in mind that they must be ready to face public wrath.

In his strongly-worded reaction, he slammed Rana Sanaullah for his “irresponsible statement, threatening that work on imposition of governor’s rule started.”

Farrukh warned that the public’s rule has been established in Punjab now; hence those who wanted imposition of governor’s rule would not sustain public anger even for two hours.

He said that no institution, including the judiciary, was “safe from intimidations and blackmailing tactics of the ruling coalition, as they resorted to hurl threats to those whom they could not buy.”