Monday July 15, 2024

Parliament pledges promises to Pakistan

By Asim Yasin & Muhammad Anis
August 14, 2018

ISLAMABAD: The 15th National Assembly of Pakistan having over 100 new faces started its journey when 324 out of 329 sitting members of the Lower House of Parliament took oath at the Parliament House on Monday.

The oath-taking ceremony administered by the outgoing Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq also marked the start of the parliamentary process for transfer of power to the third consecutive democratic government in the country. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan, who is set to take oath as the prime minister on 18th of this month, also took oath. The inaugural session of the National Assembly began with the national anthem. Following the oath-taking and signing of the roll register, the sitting was adjourned for tomorrow (Wednesday) for elections and oath-taking of the new speaker and deputy speaker of the House. The newly-elected members of provincial assemblies of Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh also took oath on Monday. The Punjab Assembly members will take oath tomorrow.

Prominent among the 134 members who made it to the National Assembly for the first time were Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif, Mohammadmian Soomro, Pervaiz Khattak, Zain Qureshi, Asad Qaisar, Ali Pervaiz Malik and Asad Mehmood, who also took oath as Members of the House on Monday. It was a historic moment when Asif Zardari, Bilawal, Aseefa and Bakhtawar arrived at the Parliament House together. As per Urdu alphabetical order, Asif Zardari was the first to sign the roll-register. The outgoing speaker, who is set to hand over the charge of seat to his successor tomorrow, and two other former speakers Syed Fakhar Imam and Dr Fehmida Mirza and two former prime ministers Raja Pervaiz Ashraf and Mohammadmian Soomro (caretaker) also took oath as MNAs on Monday. Shaikh Rashid Ahmad made it to the National Assembly for the eighth time.

The proceedings of the National Assembly started on a pleasant note and a change when the upcoming Prime Minister Imran Khan, before oath-taking, went towards Asif Zardari and Bilawal Zardari, shook hands with him and also had a photo session as a goodwill gesture. Later Imran Khan also shook hands with the PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif. The National Assembly hall echoed with sloganeering from charged supporters sitting in the visitors’ galleries and MNAs hailing from the PTI when Imran Khan’s name was called to sign the roll book, which continued till the PTI chairman returned to his seat in the front row. The supporters and parliamentarians of their respective parties also raised slogans when Shahbaz Sharif, Bilawal and Asif Zardari came to dais to sign the roll register.

In many cases, it was a family affair as blood relatives took oath as members of the National Assembly on Monday. PML-N leader Pervez Malik and his son Ali Pervez Malik won the July 25 polls while his wife Shaista Pervez was elected on a reserved seat for women. Father and son duos who took oath as MNAs included Shah Mehmood Qureshi and his son Zain Qureshi, Asif Zardari and his son Bilawal. Hussain Elahi also took oath as an MNA but his father Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, who won the polls from two constituencies, opted to sit in the Punjab Assembly. Although, Maulana Fazlur Rehman lost both the National Assembly seats, yet his son Asad Mehmood and sister-in-law Shahida Akhtar Ali also took oath as members of the House. Among those who were administered oath also included Pervaiz Khattak, his son-in-law Imran Khattak and sister-in-law Nafeesa Inayatullah Khattak, Raza Rabbani Khar and his sister Hina Rabbani Khar, Tahira Aurangzeb and her daughter Marriyum Aurangzeb, Khawaja Muhammad Asif, his wife Musarrat Asif and niece Shaza Fatima Khawaja, Syed Javed Ali Shah Jilani and his wife Mahreen Razzaq Bhutto.

Meanwhile, the elections for seats of National Assembly Speaker and Deputy Speaker will take place when the House meets again tomorrow. The National Assembly secretariat will receive nomination papers from candidates for two seats till 12 noon. Ayaz Sadiq will chair the first part of tomorrow’s proceedings while conducting election of the new speaker and will also administer oath to him. The nomination papers from candidates for prime ministership will be received till 2:00pm on August 16 followed by election on August 17. Prior to elections of the speaker and deputy speaker, the remaining five out of 329 notified by the Election Commission of Pakistan as MNAs will take oath as members of the House. These five MNAs could not turn up at the inaugural sitting to take oath from the outgoing speaker. For elections of speaker and deputy speaker, Asad Qaisar and Qasim Suri of the PTI have been nominated, while the grand opposition has named Syed Khursheed Shah and Asad Mehmood for the two slots. It may be pointed out here that elections were not held in two National Assembly constituencies, while Imran Khan vacated four seats, Pervaiz Elahi two and Major (retd) Tahir Sadiq, Hamza Shahbaz and Ghulam Sarwar Khan vacated one seat each. PPP parliamentarian Shazia Marri opted to keep seat on which she was directly elected and quit the reserved seat, while the PTI would have to nominate one more member on reserved seat for women to avail the quota of all 28 members. The ECP will notify the PPP women member coming next on the priority list, while it will seek new nomination papers from the PTI to fill one remaining reserved seat.

Nisar Mahmood adds from Peshawar: The newly-elected members of KP Assembly were sworn-in at its maiden session on Monday amid mismanagement and indiscipline. Sardar Aurangzeb Nalotha of the PML-N, who was re-elected from Abbottabad, presided over the session and administered the oath to the members. He was named as presiding officer by the KP governor in absence of the provincial assembly speaker Asad Qaiser, who had to take oath as Member National Assembly in Islamabad. The office of deputy speaker was lying vacant in the previous assembly. Sardar Aurangzeb repeatedly asked the lawmakers to maintain discipline, but in vain as all galleries and lobbies of the assembly hall were full of visitors chanting slogans in favour of their political parties.

The activists of the PTI shouted slogans of 'Aye Aye PTI' (PTI has come!) when the PPP female MPA Nighat Orakzai, known for her outspokenness, expressed her anger over blocking of the way by the visitors. It was obvious the PTI lawmakers and supporters were in a majority both in the assembly halls and the visitors' galleries. Following the oath-taking, the members signed the attendance register. After marking the attendance, the MPAs were seen shaking hands with the chief minister-designate Mehmood Khan, who was elected from Swat. Mehmood Khan will be the first-ever chief minister from Malakand Division. While announcing the schedule for submission of nomination papers for speaker and deputy speaker and the election of the chief minister, the chair adjourned the session till tomorrow. The election for the assembly speaker and deputy speaker will be held tomorrow.

Azeem Samar adds from Karachi: As many as 160 newly-elected members of the Sindh Assembly took oath as MPAs as the 15th house of the provincial legislature began its proceedings after the 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.

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 PPP, 29 belong to the PTI, 20 to the MQM-Pakistan, 13 to the Grand Democratic Alliance, three to Tehreek-e-Labbaik and one to the MMA.

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 the PPP; Dr Seema Zia of the PTI and Shahana Ashar of the MQM. The MPAs took oath in Sindhi, Urdu, and English separately. Only four newly-elected lawmakers took oath in English. The visitors’ galleries of the assembly hall were full of supporters and activists of different political parties.

APP adds from Quetta: The newly-elected 59 members of Balochistan Assembly took oath of their office during the 11th Balochistan Assembly session. The session started with recitation from the Holy Quran after which Speaker Rahila Hameed Khan Durrani administered oath to the new members of the assembly. After taking oath, newly-elected MPAs offered prayers for martyrs of the Mastung massacre and the martyred lawyers who lost their lives in August 08, 2016 terrorist attack. PML-N’s Nawab Sanaullah Khan Zehri did not appear during assembly session.