Monday June 17, 2024

PML-N cracks in Punjab

By Asim Hussain & Faizan Bangash & Moayyed Jafri
August 17, 2018

LAHORE: The PML-Q President, Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, was elected the Punjab Assembly Speaker for the second time on Thursday after a gap of 20 years, securing 201 votes as a joint candidate of PTI and PML-Q, against his rival Chaudhry Iqbal Gujjar of PML-N. Gujjar managed 147 votes in a rowdy polling that witnessed sloganeering, hooting and booing for several hours.

At least 12 MPAs of PML-N defied the party leadership to vote for Pervaiz Elahi who bagged 15 votes more than the alliance’s combined strength of 186 in the House, while three independents and one PPP MPA also voted for him. However, the remaining six PPP MPAs led by Hasan Murtaza abstained from the voting. Raees Nabeel from Rahim Yar Khan was the only PPP MPA who defied the PPP parliamentary party’s decision of abstaining from voting as he returned to the House to cast his vote. The three independents voting for Pervaiz Elahi were Jugnu Mohsin, Moavia Azam and Ahmad Ali Aulakh.

Meanwhile, PTI candidate Dost Muhammad Mazari was elected as deputy speaker, bagging 187 votes against 159 of PML-N’s Malik Waris Kallu. Interestingly, Mazari got 14 votes less than those secured by Pervaiz Elahi whereas Waris Kallu bagged 12 more than the party candidate for speaker. Previously, Pervaiz Elahi was elected Punjab Assembly speaker in 1997, but could not complete his tenure and the assembly was dissolved in 1999 as a result of military coup staged by Gen Pervez Musharraf.

As soon as the outgoing speaker Rana Iqbal announced the result, PML-N members created a rumpus by raising slogans against him and surrounded the speaker’s dais. Carrying the portraits of PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif, they shouted slogans against PTI and PML-Q leaders so loudly that nothing was audible in the House. They did not let Rana Iqbal complete the announcement who kept appealing helplessly for order in the House. Even the oath-taking of the new speaker was made with much difficulty as the oath could be hardly heard amidst the ruckus.

Amid the pandemonium, the PML-N leaders chanted slogans against Imran Khan and Pervaiz Elahi, accusing them of being "dacoits, thieves and plunderers," while the PTI members raised counter slogans. The five-hour-long polling process was marked with sloganeering, applause and objections by both sides, as the names of top leaders were called for polling their votes. The PML-N members kept protesting persistently even after Pervaiz Elahi assumed his charge and requested them several times to take seats to allow the voting for deputy speaker’s election. In order to allow the rumpus to die down, the speaker first took a 10 minutes break, but the protest continued. Then he called for an early half-hour break for Asr prayers which was extended tohalf hour for Asr prayers which was extended to two hours since the opposition members did not return to the House, forcing media to assume they had boycotted the deputy speaker’s election.

Even the start of polling process in the morning, the House witnessed severe uproar as the opposition led by Khawaja Saad Rafique lodged serious protest while questioning the transparency in election of speaker. Till that time, Hamza Shahbaz, the nominated opposition leader, had not reached the assembly and it was Saad who led the opposition and demanded fair and transparent election.

Soon after the session commenced, Saad on a point of order demanded removal of the screen covering the area where voter was to cast the vote. “I don’t see transparency in the polling process. Most of our MPAs have been contacted by them, the screen should be removed to ensure transparency,” said Saad.

He demanded complete ban on using cell phones, on which the PTI members started interrupting him and as a tit-for-tat reply, the PML-N members also started chanting slogans. The polling process couldn’t start for almost half an hour as the PML-N members surrounded the speaker’s chair and demanded removal of the screen in the polling area. Later, after the assurance by PTI legislator Chaudhry Zaheeruddin that no cell phone would be allowed by any member of his side during the election of speaker and deputy speaker, situation got normal for a brief period.

Later, it was PML-N legislator Rana Mashhood who raised another point and stated, while citing the law, that polling for the offices speaker and deputy speaker couldn’t start unless the schedule for the chief minister’s election was announced. He said in all other three provinces, the schedule for the chief minister’s election had been issued but it wasn’t the case in Punjab Assembly, which was against law.

However, the outgoing speaker said the chair had his discretionary powers and could start the polling process for the two slots. After a lapse of around half an hour, the polling started and Syed Yawar Abbas Bokhari, MPA elected from PP-1 Attock, became the first member to cast his vote.

Earlier, the PML-N, after the ruckus in the House, started considering withdrawing their candidate for deputy speaker and boycotting the election.

To sort the situation, a three member committee of PTI comprising Mehmood-ur-Rasheed, Raja Basharat and Saeed Akbar met with the PML-N leaders Chaudhry Iqbal, Rana Mashhood and Saad to address their grievances. The process took around two hours after which the PTI delegation gave assurances to the PML-N and were able to bring them back to the House.

Addressing the assembly, Mehmood said he had assured the PML-N that the PTI or its allies had not used pressure or money to swing the PML-N votes against their candidate.

Chaudhry Iqbal and Saad said they believed that the new assembly started-off at a very negative note because of this incident. They said despite the pre-poll rigging and election engineering, PML-N had decided to be part of the assembly to further the democratic process, but if such tactics of creating forward-blocs and stealing the mandate would ensue, the PML-N knew how to strike back, but it would greatly hamper the performance of the assembly. After this, the election for the deputy speaker started.

Nisar Mahmood adds from Peshawar: Mehmood Khan of the PTI was elected Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister on Thursday by securing 77 votes against 33 votes of opposition candidate Mian Nisar Gul.

The election was held peacefully through division. Those supporting Mian Nisar Gul were sent to lobby number one and those voting for Mehmood Khan were asked to gather in lobby number two of the assembly hall. After counting the members, the newly elected Speaker Mushtaq Ahmad Ghani declared Mehmood Khan as the winner.

All opposition members -- 13 of the MMA, eight belonging the ANP, six from the PML-N and five affiliated to the PPP along with an independent MPA Amjad Afridi cast votes in favour of the opposition nominee.

The PTI candidate secured 77 votes, though the party has strength of 76 in the House including the speaker. One of its members Dr Amjad Ali did not cast his vote as he had left for Haj.

Two independents, Faisal Zaman and Ehtesham Akbar and a PML-Q MPA Mufti Abdur Rahman from Kohistan voted for Mehmood Khan.

Nisar Gul was elected from PK-85 Karak-I on the MMA ticket. Ironically, he was the only PTI lawmaker in the KP Assembly in the past, but he later drifted to the JUI-F.

Belonging to Matta in Swat district, Mehmood Khan was elected as MPA from PK-9 Swat is the 22nd Leader of the House in the KP Assembly. He was elected MPA for the first time in the 2013 general elections on the PTI ticket and served as minister for sports, tourism and youth affairs in the PTI-led coalition government. Mehmood Khan also remained minister for irrigation and the provincial home minister also for a short period. He retained his seat in the July 25 general elections and was named by the PTI Chairman Imran Khan for the chief minister’s position. He is also the party president for Malakand division. Mehmood Khan is the first chief minister from Malakand, the largest administrative division of KP.

The newly elected chief minister in his speech thanked the lawmakers for reposing confidence in him. Mehmood Khan vowed to take all stakeholders, including the opposition, media and bureaucrats on board while running the government affairs. He said the convincing PTI victory was the result of the party's 22 years long struggle and performance of its previous government from 2013-2018.

Setting his priorities, Mehmood Khan said his government would not make compromises on the PTI and Imran Khan's vision of adherence to merit and transparency. He said the government would fight against corruption, invest in human resources, protect and achieve provincial rights, improve health, education and social sectors, empower women and ensure minorities' rights.

The chief minister-elect said the government would focus on revenue generation by developing tourism and making use of the mineral resources and hydel-generation potential of the province. He said progress would be made by tackling issues of environment, increasing energy production and improving agriculture sector. He said the provincial government would strive to improve law and order situation and get the proper share of KP from the net hydel profit according to the AGN Qazi formula.

The CM-elect said he is ready for scrutiny of votes in his constituency if anyone desires so. Mehmood Khan hoped that KP would get a major share of resources with help from the PTI's government at the Centre. He believed the PTI would emerge victorious for the third time in the next general elections.

Mehmood Khan said the mega project launched by the previous PTI government like the Bus Rapid Transit in Peshawar and Swat Expressway would be completed.

Azeem Samar adds from Karachi: Syed Murad Ali Shah of the PPP was elected as Sindh’s Chief Minister for a second term on Thursday.

After his expected swearing-in on Saturday, he would become the 29th CM of the province. Shah’s first term as the chief executive ran from July 29, 2016 to May 28, 2018. The Sindh Assembly conducted the poll to choose the next CM, the leader of the house, with newly-elected Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani in the chair. Shah faced off Shaharyar Khan Mahar of the GDA. Shah was elected to the provincial legislature on winning the PS-80 Sehwan Sharif constituency while Mahar on securing the PS-8 Shikarpur seat.

Shah bagged 97 of the 158 votes. One MMA MPA and three Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan lawmakers chose not to participate in the open ballot.

After being declared the Leader of the House, Shah said in his speech that his father had been an MPA, minister, CM and speaker, saying that he was provided the same opportunities except the post of the speaker. “God willing, I’ll serve Sindh’s people to the best of my abilities.” He claimed that the PPP was certain of winning two-third majority, but most of the party’s seats were snatched from them, and he knows how that happened.

Responding to the speech of an opposition member, Shah said he was committed to introducing police reforms and turning the Sindh Police into the most efficient, community-friendly and effective force.

“We had started capacity-building of the police force in our last tenure, as under that programme, most modern training at army training centres was started, over 10,000 police officials were recruited on merit and the force was equipped with the latest weapons and gadgets,” he said.

Shah said some people believe that the solution to water shortage lies in the construction of dams. “This is totally wrong. Dams are cemented walls, but their raw material is water,” he said. “We don’t have water in the system, and construction of dams would not resolve this issue.”

He said the actual solution of water shortage lies in conservation and adoption of the most modern irrigational methods. He added that he had conceived a project to install a desalination plant on the sea to obtain potable water.

Agencies add: Abdul Quddus Bizenjo and Babar Musakhel respectively took oath as the Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the Balochistan Assembly on Thursday.

Bizenjo secured 39 votes in the election for Speaker. He was administered oath by the outgoing Speaker Raheela Durrani.

He has also served as the Deputy Speaker of the Balochistan Assembly from June 2013 to May 2015.

Bizenjo's opponent, Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal and Balochistan National Party- Mengal's joint candidate for speaker Mohammad Nawaz Khan, gained 20 votes.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf's Musakhel secured 36 votes in the election for Deputy Speaker. His opponent Ahmed Nawaz attained 21 votes, whereas one vote was rejected in the election.

Later, Musakhel was administered oath by Speaker Bizenjo.

Speaking on the occasion, Raheela Durrani said people understand that becoming the Speaker is an easy thing, but it is a tough job. "I feel proud that I was elected as the first female Speaker of Balochistan Assembly," she said.

Addressing the members after taking oath, Bizenjo said he was thankful to the parties who backed him in the election. "For me everyone is equal and I'll try to run the business of the House impartially," he said.

The newly-sworn-in speaker urged the members to uphold the traditions of Balochistan, urging them to do protest in the House, but avoid turning it into a fish market.

He also paid tribute to the outgoing speaker for running the House in an efficient way.