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Friday June 21, 2024

Crisis-like situation: KP Assembly unlikely to meet today

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor Ghulam Ali summoned the assembly session on March 22

By Javed Aziz Khan & Khalid Kheshgi
March 22, 2024
Members of Provincial Assembly (MPAs) takes oath during the first session of the Provincial Assembly, at Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly in Peshawar on February 28, 2024. — PPI
Members of Provincial Assembly (MPAs) takes oath during the first session of the Provincial Assembly, at Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly in Peshawar on February 28, 2024. — PPI

PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly is unlikely to meet today as the speaker has sought the opinion of Law Department on the governor’s order to summon the session for March 22.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor Ghulam Ali summoned the assembly session on March 22 (today) so that the members-elect on women and minority reserved seats could take oath as members of the provincial assembly. However, the spokesperson for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government, Barrister Mohammad Ali Saif, had already termed the step as unconstitutional on the part of the governor.

Sources at the Assembly Secretariat said Speaker Babar Saleem Swati had written a letter to the Law Department to seek its legal opinion. They said the provincial assembly session could not be held as the Assembly Secretariat had not issued invitation letters to assembly members to attend the session today (Friday).

The oath-taking of KP Assembly members notified on reserved seats has become crucial for both the ruling and opposition parties as it will play an important role in the Senate polls slated for April 2 for filling 11 seats from the province.

When approached by the opposition parties, the governor, through an order, summoned the session of the provincial assembly on Friday at 3pm for the oath-taking of the members elected on the seats reserved for women.

A day after the order of the governor, the KP Assembly speaker on Thursday wrote to the Law Department to seek legal opinion as to whether the governor could convene the assembly session. The letter asked about the status of a case in the Peshawar High Court about the MPAs elected on reserved seats. The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government termed the calling of session by the governor illegal and even demanded his resignation. The ruling party has moved the court as well against a notification of MPAs from the opposition parties on all the reserved seats.

The Sunni Ittehad Council, which has a clear majority in the house, is planning to delay the oath-taking, at least till the Senate polls. With the existing strength of the assembly, the ruling party can win most of the Senate seats in all categories. The party has already nominated five candidates for the general seats while two each for the seats reserved for women and technocrats.

On the other hand, the opposition parties want the 24 MPAs elected on reserved seats to be administered oath before the Senate polls to get the desired number of seats in the upper house of parliament.

Opposition leader Dr Ibadullah Khan, in a press conference the other day, asked the KP Assembly speaker to call the session for the oath-taking of women MPAs as the house was incomplete without them for the Senate polls.