Elahi retains confidence in chaotic session.

LAHORE -- Extraordinary scenes were witnessed at the Punjab Assembly before Chief Minister Parvez Elahi managed to secure the confidence of 186 members, in a session that began on Wednesday and ended in the early hours of Thursday.

The unprecedented session, which was marred by a noisy opposition protest, saw lawmakers breaking furniture in frustration and shouting slogans to antagonise their opponents.

After taking the confidence vote, CM Elahi thanked his own party, Imran Khan and the PTI, his provincial cabinet and other lawmakers who helped him get over the line.

Even though Rana Sanauallah had earlier claimed that at least seven PTI MPAs were abroad as per travel records, two PTI MPAs, Amer Chandia from Rahim Yar Khan and Ammar Yasir from Chakwal, were transported to Lahore late on Wednesday night, enabling the ruling coalition to somehow touch the magical figure of 186.

The opposition, which had been creating a ruckus in the house since proceedings began at 5pm and demanding that the chief minister take a trust vote as per Dec 19 directive of the governor, boycotted the voting process alleging the speaker did not allow them to appoint polling agents for a 'fair count' of those who were voting for Mr Elahi.

Speaking to reporters outside the assembly in the early hours of Thursday, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah - who witnessed proceedings from the gallery - said the treasury had maintained that the governor's order was illegal and challenged it in court.

'Then how could they do this, after relaxing all the rules,' he said, referring to the late night vote of confidence.

Notwithstanding verbal assurances by Speaker Sibtain Khan to the contrary, the opposition had suspicions that CM Elahi would try to take a trust vote by 'manipulating' the number of supporting MPAs and stayed put in the house, which remained in session until midnight with two breaks - one for Maghrib prayers - that lasted for more than an hour during which PTI chairman addressed the ruling coalition's parliamentary party through video link - and the other at 10pm for half an hour as dinner break.

The second break ended close to 12am, when Deputy Speaker Wasiq Qayyum resumed proceedings and announced putting off the same for 12:05am to meet the legal requirement of summoning a fresh sitting for the new day (Jan 12) and accordingly issuing a new agenda for the sitting.

Proceedings resumed in earnest at 1:20am, with the chief minister himself in attendance.

As soon as CM...

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