As many as 160 newly-elected members of the Sindh Assembly took oath as MPAs on Monday as the 15th house of the provincial legislature began its proceedings after last month’s general elections.
The house comprises a total of 168 members, but just 165 MPAs-elect were supposed to take oath in Monday’s inaugural session. At the moment, three MPA seats remain empty as election on one seat has been postponed after the death of a candidate, while the results of two other constituencies have been withheld by the Election Commission of Pakistan.
Five MPAs-elect did not show up for the inaugural day of the new Sindh Assembly and, thus, didn’t take oath. Of these, three were directly elected to the house, while two are MPAs on reserved seats.
Out of the 160 members who took oath as MPAs, 94 belong to the Pakistan Peoples Party, 29 belong to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, 20 to the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan, 13 to the Grand Democratic Alliance, three to the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan, and one to the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal.
Among the lawmakers who took oath were two women lawmakers of the PPP who were elected on general seats – Dr Faryal Talpur and Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho, sisters of former president Asif Ali Zardari.
Two of the imprisoned MPAs-elect, Sharjeel Inam Memon of PPP and Javed Hanif of MQM, were especially brought to the house in police vehicles for oath-taking as production orders were issued for them by the assembly secretariat for the day.
The five absentee MPAs-elect include Ali Mardan Shah, Ali Nawaz Khan Mahar and Pir Syed Fazal Shah Jeelani from PPP; Dr Seema Zia of PTI and Shahana Ashar of the MQM.
Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani, who is all set to become speaker of the house for another term, chaired the inaugural day’s house proceedings. He also administered the oath of office to the newly-elected MPAs. Durrani at present is also acting Sindh governor after resignation of Mohammad Zubair last month.
Another interesting feature of the swearing-in ceremony was that the current acting Sindh governor, Siraj Durrani, and incoming governor, Imran Ismail, both were present in the house. Ismail took oath as an MPA of PTI as he had been elected from PS-111, Karachi. However, he will have to resign as an MPA in a few days in order to become the governor once the PTI-led government comes into power in the Centre.
The MPAs took oath in Sindhi, Urdu, and English separately. A majority of lawmakers who took the oath in Sindhi belong to the PPP whose lawmakers are going to sit on the treasury benches for the third consecutive term.
Only four newly-elected lawmakers took oath in English. They included Ali Khursheedi from PTI, Adeel Shahzad from MQM, and Rana Hamir Singh and Rehana Laghari of PPP. More than 50 lawmakers took oath in Urdu.
Following this, Speaker Durrani himself took oath as an MPA of the house, and greeted the newly-elected members of Sindh Assembly. Later, he individually met and greeted each of new legislators as they came to the rostrum to sign the roll of members after taking the oath.
The visitors’ galleries of the assembly hall were full of supporters and activists of different political parties whose candidates emerged victorious in the general elections of July 25. They also raised slogans in favour of their respective political parties.
When chief minister-designate Syed Murad Ali Shah, and MPAs Dr Faryal Talpur and Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho were announced in the assembly to sign the roll of members, the assembly echoed with slogans in favour of PPP.
Before the house was adjourned till Wednesday, August 15, the speaker read out the schedule of incoming elections of speaker and deputy speaker. The elections for both positions will be held on Wednesday, while the nomination forms will be submitted and later scrutinised today.
Chaos and excitement
All major roads around the Sindh Assembly building witnessed severe traffic jams for a few hours in the morning owing to the overwhelming movement of vehicles in the area for the inaugural session.
Because of the traffic jam, some of the MPAs-elect had to get down from their personal vehicles outside the main gate and walk for some distance to reach the assembly building. Media personnel also faced difficulties in reaching the assembly building.
Before the commencement of the inaugural session, the main gate of the assembly building witnessed serious ruckus and disorder because of the presence of a large number of political workers who wanted to witness their respective lawmakers being sworn in. Some of them even managed to slip past the security personnel and get inside the assembly building without having passes issued by the assembly secretariat.
Some of the newly-elected lawmakers wore traditional dresses for the day. The most prominent among them was Tanzila Qambrani, a PPP MPA on a reserved seat for women and the first Sheedi woman to be a Sindh lawmaker, and Rana Hameer Singh, another PPP MPA elected on a reserved seat for minorities.