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PTI prevails in NA: Asad Qaiser elected Speaker, Suri deputy

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) nominees Asad Qaiser and Qasim Suri were elected respectively as the Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly on Wednesday.

Asad Qaiser was contesting against Khursheed Shah from the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP). He received 176 votes whereas Khursheed Shah got 146 votes. A total of 330 votes were cast in the election for the NA speaker, out of which 322 were accepted and eight were rejected.

However, votes of Qasim Suri increased to 183 against 144 votes of Maulana Asad Mehmood, the joint candidate of grand opposition, while out of the 328 polled votes, only one was rejected.

Asad Qaiser was administered oath by outgoing speaker Ayaz Sadiq amid protest and uproar from the parliamentarians of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) gathered in front of the speaker’s dais.

Not immediately welcomed by majority of opposition members, the new speaker occupied his seat but had to suspend proceedings for 15 minutes as the pandemonium being created by the PML-N and MMA members made it impossible for him to go ahead with the election of deputy speaker. The parliamentarians from the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), however, acted as silent spectators, which reflected a clear divide between the opposition on strategy of protest in the House.

The PML-N parliamentarians accompanied by MMA members gathered in front of the dais while carrying posters of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif captioned ‘Hamara Quaid’. They also raised slogans of ‘Vote Ko Izzat Do’ and ‘Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’ as the PTI Chairman Imran Khan surrounded by his party members, kept smiling in the meantime.

PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif, Khawaja Muhammad Asif, Rana Sanaullah, Ahsan Iqbal and Murtaza Javed Abbasi gathered in front of the speaker’s dais as former information minister Marriyum Aurengzeb continued to lead the sloganeering. Just two days back, majority of his party leaders suggested that they should play on the front foot in the National Assembly.

Some senior PTI members averted a clash between parliamentarians of the two sides, stopping their colleagues, including Shamim Naqvi to approach the protesting members. Later, the opposition members ended their protest and returned to their seats toof the deputy speaker which completed smoothly.

Earlier, Imran Khan forgot to bring his National Assembly card with him, but Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, who was chairing proceedings, allowed him to poll his vote during speaker’s election.

Later, speaking on a point of order, Abdul Qadar Patel of the PPP, who was polling agent of Khursheed Shah, complained that he also could not bring his ID card and had to go to his accommodation to collect his card. On that, the chair said had he raised the issue before him, he would have been allowed to poll his vote.

The result coming out of election of the deputy speaker was enough to clear the picture ahead of elections of the prime minister scheduled to take place tomorrow (Friday). The result showed that the PTI chairman, who filed his nomination papers on Wednesday for the prime minister’s election, is expected to pocket over 180 votes.

Asad Qasier thanked the members for reposing confidence in him and pledged to live up to their expectations. Addressing the session after taking oath, Asad Qaiser said he will move forward with the consultation of all the elected members. "It is our duty to rise above personal gains and work for Pakistan," he said.

He observed that the speakership is a big responsibility and that he will do his best to perform his responsibilities in an effective manner. He assured that the elected representatives will be fully facilitated by the staff of the national assembly for legislation.

Asad Qaiser said that the speakership is a big responsibility and he will do his best to perform his responsibilities in an effective manner. He said the elected representatives will be fully facilitated by the staff of the National Assembly for legislation.

He urged the members to play a positive role and work together in the best national interests whilst rising above their personal interests. “Pakistan is our identity and we will have to collectively work for the welfare of the masses,” he said.

During the voting process for the slot of deputy speaker, the PPP lawmaker Shazia Marri on a point of order criticised Asad Qaisar of holding discriminatory attitude towards women parliamentarians. Shazia said the speaker stood up only for male MNAs as they came to vote for the deputy speaker post, but he showed no courtesy to stand up for women who facilitated him on his success. “All parliamentarians are equal in the House irrespective of their gender,” she said.

Asad Qaisar replied to the PPP’s lawmaker that he respects women parliamentarians. The NA speaker started to stand up for the women parliamentarians coming for the vote after objection raised by Shazia Marri.

Two opposition members Roshan Junejo and Najeeb Awaisi did not poll their votes for election of the deputy speaker. Khawaja Asif, Ahsan Iqbal and Dr Darshan filed nomination papers of Shahbaz Sharif for prime minister’s election.  

Nisar Mahmood adds from Peshawar: Mushtaq Ahmad Ghani of the PTI was elected as speaker and his party colleague Mehmood Jan as deputy speaker of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly on Wednesday.

Mushtaq Ghani got 81 votes, while his rival Laiq Mohammad Khan, associated with the Awami National Party (ANP) and fielded by the joint opposition, managed to secure 27 of the total 108 polled votes. Both belong to Hazara division -- Mushtaq Ghani to Abbottabad and Laiq Mohammad to Mansehra.

Mehmood Jan, hailing from Peshawar, obtained 78 votes and was elected as deputy speaker. PML-N's Jamshed Mohmand, the joint candidate of the opposition elected from Mardan, got 30 votes. For deputy speaker's contest, 109 votes were polled and one was rejected.

Mushtaq Ghani received five votes more than the actual strength of his party in the assembly, while Mehmood Jan got three extra votes. Nighat Orakzai of the Pakistan People's Party (PPP), Didar Khan of the PTI and presiding officer Sardar Aurangzeb Nalotha did not cast their votes in the election for the speaker.

However, Nighat Orakzai cast her vote in the election for deputy speaker on the speaker's request though for some time she refused to cast it as a mark of protest. Didar Khan did not turn up for the deputy speaker's election as well. Nighat Orakzai entered the assembly hall when the votes had been polled and the presiding officer had ordered the counting of the ballots. She demanded to be allowed to cast her vote, but her request was turned down as the counting of votes had begun.

The shouting and protest that ensued at this stage was countered by shouts of 'shame shame' by some lawmakers as well as visitors seated in the galleries.

Aurangzeb Nalotha, who was chosen by KP governor as presiding officer for the opening session, administered oath to the newly elected Speaker Mushtaq Ghani. The speaker later conducted the election for deputy speaker's office and after the announcement of result administered oath to Deputy Speaker Mehmood Jan.

Mushtaq Ghani is the 18th speaker of the KP Assembly while Mehmood is 22nd deputy speaker. After assuming his office as Speaker, Mushtaq Ghani thanked the assembly members for reposing trust in him and said he would try to run the House in a neutral and unbiased manner. He hinted at making some amendments to the rules of business for smooth and effective running of the assembly proceedings. He maintained that efforts would be made to take both the treasury and opposition benches into confidence on assembly affairs and legislation.

Inayatullah Khan, former senior minister and Jamaat-e-Islami MPA from Upper Dir, lauded Mushtaq Ghani's election as speaker, saying he was a seasoned and decent politician. He hoped being the custodian of the House he would ensure presence of ministers and bureaucrats in the House to answer the questions raised on the floor.

Congratulating the speaker, Maulana Lutfur Rehman of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) hoped he would run the House neutrally. He said the new speaker should ensure debate on issues through arguments.

Sardar Hussain Babak of the ANP also congratulated Mushtaq Ghani and hoped being the custodian of the House he would remove shortcomings from the assembly rules of business. He said the speaker should accommodate the opposition members in the standing committees to ensure better legislation.

Meanwhile, the PPP leader Agha Siraj Durrani was re-elected speaker of Sindh Assembly. With 96 votes, Siraj Durrani defeated the MQM-P's Javed Hanif (59 votes) to retain his post. The PPP's nominee Rehana Legahri was elected as the deputy speaker of the assembly. She was contesting against PTI’s Rabia Azfar Nizami for the post. The Balochistan Assembly will elect its speaker and deputy speaker today (Thursday).