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Thursday April 18, 2024

Malik Ahmed Khan elected Punjab Assembly speaker with 224 votes

Malik Zaheer Iqbal Channer becomes deputy speaker after securing 220 votes

By Azam Malik
February 24, 2024
Punjab Assembly Speaker Malik Ahmed Khan administers oath to newly-elected deputy speaker Malik Zaheer Iqbal on February 24, 2024. — Geo News/Screengrab
Punjab Assembly Speaker Malik Ahmed Khan administers oath to newly-elected deputy speaker Malik Zaheer Iqbal on February 24, 2024. — Geo News/Screengrab

LAHORE: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Malik Ahmed Khan was elected as the new speaker and Malik Zaheer Iqbal Channer deputy speaker of the Punjab Assembly.

The new custodian of the House secured 224 votes out of the 322 ballots cast during the polling, while the deputy speaker bagged 220 votes. 

Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) candidate Ahmad Khan Bhachar bagged 96 votes, while two votes were rejected out of the total 322 ballots cast during the polling for the slot of speaker. SIC candidate Moeen Riaz lost the deputy speaker election by getting 103 votes. 

As many as 323 lawmakers cast ballots in the deputy speaker election.

The Punjab Assembly's session to elect a new speaker and deputy speaker began this evening in the presence of police force and prison vans outside the House. 

The second session of the newly elected assembly started with outgoing Speaker Sibtain Khan in the chair, after a delay of one-and-a-half hours. At the outset of the delayed session, members of the PML-N and SIC chanted slogans against each other.

Later, six MPAs, including Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) leader Chaudhry Shafay Hussain and SIC's Hafiz Farhat Abbas and Waseem Khan Badozai, and independent candidates Rai Murtaza Iqbal Khan, Fateh Khaliq, Tashakul Abbas Warraich, who were not present in the House's inaugural session on Friday, took their oaths.

The sworn-in MPAs then marked their attendance in the register after the oath. 

SIC terms assembly proceedings 'illegal'

Earlier during the session, SIC leader Sahibzada Hamid Raza termed the assembly's proceedings "unconstitutional" and "illegal" without the presence of the party's MPA-elects on the reserved seats.

He said that SIC members were being barred from attending the assembly sessions

"A new history of politics of revenge is about to be made. We will not let the PA proceedings continue without members on the reserved seats," he added.

Meanwhile, SIC leader Rana Aftab termed the Punjab Assembly "incomplete" and vowed to challenge any move made by the House in the court.

Taking the floor in the provincial assembly, the SIC leader said that 27 reserved seats for women and minorities are yet to be decided by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP)

“[PTI nominee for Punjab chief minister slot] Mian Aslam is not in the House. He will contest the poll [for the chief minister] from our side,” he added.

At this, the outgoing speaker said that he could not tell the election regulator to summon the absentees to the assembly, which may require the session's adjournment.

"I am leaving the chair [speaker's post] in a respectable manner. I don't want myself to have a label that I kept adjourning the session," he said.

Sibtain said that there were 30 seats in the provincial legislative, which include the 27 reserved and three minority seats.

He said that if the ECP doesn't decide on the seats that have not been notified yet, for the next six months, one party will have to move the high court while the other will have to move the Supreme Court.

Reacting to Aftab’s remarks, PML-N’s nominee for the speaker’s slot Malik Ahmad Khan said that the people, who the SIC leader was talking about are not part of the House.

Referring to Article 254 of the Constitution, the PML-N leader stressed holding the elections for the slots of speaker and deputy speaker.

After this, the polling for the new speaker was conducted. As many as 327 MPA-elects cast their votes during the ballot.

The election of speaker and deputy speaker is being held via a secret ballot under Rules 9 and 10 of the Rules of Procedure of the Provincial Assembly of Punjab, 1997.

Besides, Malik Ahmad Khan for the speaker's slot, PML-N’s Malik Zaheer Iqbal Channer is contesting for the deputy speaker's post. 

Meanwhile, SIC members Ahmad Khan Bhachar and Muhammad Moeenuddin Riaz Qureshi submitted their papers for the speaker and deputy speaker positions.

Yesterday's session marked the beginning of PML-N's chief minister nominee Maryam Nawaz's parliamentary politics, as 321 out of 371 elected members took oath as the new MPAs.

Out of these 321 legislators, 221 belonged to the PML-N its allied parties, 98 members of the SIC and one each of the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) and PML-Zia.

It may be noted that PML-N has become the largest party in the Punjab Assembly after the induction of 13 MPA-elects from PPP, 10 from PML-Q and five from the Tehreek-e-Istehkam Party.

Having the majority, PML-N has announced to form the government in the province with Maryam as its head.