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Sunday April 14, 2024

Newly-elected members take oath; PTI-backed MNAs stage protest

Raja Pervez Ashraf administers oath of newly-elected lawmakers; prime minister's election slated for March 4

By Web Desk
February 29, 2024
Newly-elected members including (left to right) PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif, President Shehbaz Sharif, PPP Co-chairman Asif Zardari, Bilawal Bhutto and others take oath in the National Assembly on February 29, 2024, in still taken from a video. — YouTube/PTV News
Newly-elected members including (left to right) PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif, President Shehbaz Sharif, PPP Co-chairman Asif Zardari, Bilawal Bhutto and others take oath in the National Assembly on February 29, 2024, in still taken from a video. — YouTube/PTV News

The 16th National Assembly's inaugural session Thursday saw newly-elected members take the oath as legislators after an hour-long delay in the commencement of the lower house's proceedings.

NA Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf administered the oath to the 302 newly-elected members which included the country's political leadership from major parties including the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl (JUI-F) and others.

PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif, President Shehbaz Sharif, PPP Co-chairman Asif Zardari, Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and Maulana Fazlur Rehman are among the top politicians who were seen taking oath for their membership to the Parliament's the lower house.

The session started with a ruckus as soon as the national anthem ended with the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-backed lawmakers, who have joined the Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC), surrounding the speaker's dias.

The party had already announced it would protest in today's session against the alleged rigging done in the February 8 general polls.

It was after an appeal by the speaker that the lawmakers settled down and the oath was taken by all the members.

However, as soon as the oath was administered the PTI-SIC lawmakers asked the speaker that they be allowed to speak on a point of order.

But their request was turned down, as the speaker informed them that they could raise the point of order after they had signed the role of member register.

With this, the speaker directed the NA secretary to summon the lawmakers one by one to sign the role of member register which included Nawaz, Bilawal and Zardari, among others.

Meanwhile, PTI leader Barrister Gohar Ali Khan displayed a picture of his party's incarcerated founder Imran Khan's picture and chanted slogans in his favour.

PTI Chairman Gohar Khan holding a banner party founder Imran Khan after signing the role of member register. — Screengrab/PTV News
PTI Chairman Gohar Khan holding a banner party founder Imran Khan after signing the role of member register. — Screengrab/PTV News

Amid the signing, the SIC lawmakers started chanting "qaidi number 804" the number given to the PTI founder in the Adiala jail where he has remained imprisoned since August 2023.

In response, the PML-N lawmakers started shouting "ghari chor" (watch thief) in the House.

Speaker adjourns session till tomorrow

After all the 302 members had signed the role of member register, Speaker Raja Pervez Ashraf gave the floor to the SIC to express their views.

Speaking on the point of order, PTI's Barrister Gohar claimed that his party had won 186 NA seats in the February 8 polls.

"Mr speaker [the members] sitting on your left are strangers [and do not belong here]," Gohar said while stressing that no one is allowed in the assembly by any other means other than those who come via the people's mandate.

"The speaker is elected when the assembly is complete," he added while referring to the issue of allocation of reserved seats.

After the PTI leader, the floor was then given to PML-N leader Khawaja Asif at which point the SIC members started chanting slogans and recorded their strong protest.

Responding to the PTI's complaint regarding reserved seats, Asif highlighted that the SIC, which the PTI-backed independent candidates have joined, has not submitted any list regarding the allocation of reserved seats.

However, the PML-N leader wasn't able to express himself on the floor for long as the speaker adjourned the session till 10am Friday (tomorrow).

Summoning of NA session

The session — required to be convened on the 21st day after the general elections under Article 91(2) of the Constitution — eventually took place amid much controversy and uncertainty after President Arif Alvi reportedly declined to sign a summary of the summoning of the NA session over the issue of the allocation of reserved seats.

The president had neither rejected nor accepted the summary and only communicated his verbal response on the matter, Geo News reported.

On Monday, in light of Alvi's reluctance to summon the assembly session, the National Assembly Secretariat convened the session.

However, the president finally summoned the NA session after the political parties warned him of legal consequences.

It is pertinent to mention that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has allocated reserved seats to political parties, but it has not awarded reserved quota to the Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) after the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-backed independent candidates joined the party.

A day earlier, the electoral body's five-member bench, chaired by Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja reserved the verdict on the petitions filed by SIC seeking the allocation of women and minority seats.

Prime minister's election slated for March 4

As per the schedule, Speaker Raja Pervez Ashraf would administer the oath to the newly-elected legislators, followed by the election of the new speaker and deputy speaker.

PML-N’s Sardar Ayaz Sadiq has submitted he papers for the post of NA speaker, while PPP’s Ghulam Mustafa Shah has submitted the papers for deputy speaker. The nomination papers of both lawmakers were received by the NA secretary in the House.

On the other hand, Malik Muhammad Amir Dogar and Junaid Akbar of the Sunni Ittehad Council also submitted their nominations for the speaker and deputy speaker offices.

For the aforementioned coveted constitutional posts, aspiring candidates are required to submit their nomination papers before 12pm today — with the voting set to be held on Friday (tomorrow).

This would be followed by the election of the prime minister, for which the candidates are required to file their nomination papers on March 3, whereas the election for the country's chief executive would be held next week on March 4 (Monday).

Sources say that the newly-elected prime minister is likely to take oath as the country's chief executive on the same day.

The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), which has the backing of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P), Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) and others, has nominated Shehbaz Sharif as its candidate for the top office.

Whereas, the PTI has fielded Omar Ayub Khan as its candidate for the country's premier.

A look into 336-member House

The National Assembly comprises 336 members out of which 266 are elected whereas 70 seats are reserved for women and minorities. These reserved seats are allotted to the parties as per their strength in the house.

Moreover, 169 votes are required to be elected as prime minister.

In light of this, Shehbaz seems to be in the pole position to secure the victory.