Agha Siraj Khan Durrani and Rehana Leghari of the Pakistan Peoples Party were elected to the offices of speaker and deputy speaker of the 15th house of the Sindh Assembly on Wednesday.
Durrani has been speaker since 2013 and is currently also the acting governor of Sindh, while Leghari, has become the fourth woman deputy speaker of the assembly. PPP’s Shehla Raza had the role before her for two full terms.
Elections for the two top positions were held on Wednesday through secret ballot with PPP MPA Mir Nadir Ali Khan Magsi as presiding officer. According to the rules of procedure of the Sindh Assembly, Durrani could not chair the proceedings as he was one of the candidates.
The election for house speaker was held first, followed by the election for deputy speaker. Later, the newly-elected speaker and deputy speaker also took oath of office. Presiding officer Magsi administered the oath to Durrani and then Durrani, as speaker, administered the oath to Leghari.
Durrani defeated Javed Hanif, an MPA of the Muttahida Quami Movement-Pakistan, while Leghari defeated Rabia Azfar Nizami, an MPA of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf.
Hanif and Nizami were the consensus candidates of the incoming opposition alliance in the Sindh Assembly, which comprises MQM-P, PTI and the Grand Democratic Alliance. Hanif, is currently in prison, facing multiple charges by the National Accountability Bureau related to his stint as chairman of the Karachi Port Trust a couple of years back. The charges include abuse of authority while in office as KPT chairman.
Syed Nasir Hussain Shah, MPA of PPP, acted as polling agent for Durrani and Leghari, while PTI’s MPA Khurrum Sher Zaman acted as polling agent for Hanif and Nizami.
A total of 158 votes were cast for the speaker’s post, of which three were rejected. Durrani received 96 votes, while Hanif secured 59. Similarly, 158 votes were cast for the deputy speaker’s post, of which one was rejected. Leghari received 98 votes while Nizami secured 59.
Slogans in favour of PPP and its late leaders echoed in the house as the chair announced the results. PTI’s Imran Ismail and GDA’s Arif Jatoi didn’t attend the proceedings, while Tehreek-e-Labbaik’s three MPAs did attend but did not cast their vote.
Earlier, MPAs-elect of PPP Ali Mardan Shah, Ali Nawaz Khan Mahar, and Syed Zulfiqar Ali Shah took oath as new members of the house as they had missed the inaugural day on Monday.
After getting elected as speaker for another term, Durrani while speaking in the house said that he had been a member of the Sindh Assembly since 1988, and added that the house bears historical importance.
He said that during the last five years, he didn’t take any harsh lawful disciplinary action against any of the erring MPAs. He also expressed gratitude to Hanif and Nizami for contesting on the two seats.
The speaker added that due investigation would be conducted to probe the unruly scenes witnessed during the oath-taking of new MPAs on Monday. Some people had managed to reach the assembly’s premises on that day without having the relevant security passes and such a security lapse should have not taken place, he said.
Durrani thanked PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and former president Asif Ali Zardari for enabling him to become speaker of Sindh Assembly for another term.
Former Sindh chief minister, Syed Murad Ali Shah, who is all set to become CM for another term, said that the people of Sindh were blessed to get the government of Peoples Party for another term. He said it was a good omen that the speaker was being elected for another term as speakers of the assemblies usually change every new house.
Former leader of opposition in Sindh Assembly Khawaja Izharul Hassan, who is an MPA of MQM, said that the treasury benches should duly investigate as to why the newly-elected speaker polled two votes less than the votes received by the deputy speaker.
He said that in the past, voters and supporters of different victorious political parties used to visit the assembly on the day of lawmakers’ oath-taking and on such occasions sloganeering did take place from the visitors’ galleries. He added that after the coming elections too, voters of PPP would come to the assembly and would do the sloganeering from the visitors’ galleries. He was referring to the complaints of some of the lawmakers that unruly scenes were witnessed in the visitors’ galleries earlier this week.
The Sindh Assembly secretary cancelled all passes for visitors of the assembly premises for the current session except those issued to journalists. This was done in view of the unruly scenes witnessed on Monday at the assembly building’s premises and gates on the occasion of oath-taking of newly-elected MPAs when security personnel could not properly check large number of visitors who wanted to witness the inaugural day’s proceedings of the house.