The Punjab Assembly will elect the speaker and deputy speaker of the house on Monday (today).
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) on Sunday nominated the incumbent Rana Muhammad Iqbal Khan for speaker while a young party member from south Punjab, Sardar Sher Ali Gorchani, has been nominated for deputy speaker.
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) have jointly fielded Raja Rashid of PTI and Waqas Hassan Moakkal of PML-Q for speaker and deputy speaker, respectively.
PML-N’s candidates submitted their nomination papers at the assembly secretariat on Sunday. PTI and PML-Q’s candidates had submitted their papers on Saturday.
The Pakistan Peoples Party has not fielded a candidate for either post. However it has nominated Qazi Ahmed Saeed as its parliamentary leader in the House.
According to a senior PML-N member, the party had been divided over which members to award the two portfolios to. Former law minister Rana Sanaullah was among the people considered for speaker.
The senior member, who wished to be anonymous, said that Shahbaz Sharif had expressed disappointment with Khan’s performance as speaker complaining that he seemed to be unable to control the house and couldn’t settle quarrels that broke out between treasury and opposition members. Sharif, he said, preferred former deputy speaker Rana Mashhood who was firm and ran the house deftly. He had helped the previous government pass 118 bills during its tenure, he said. However, when he was picked to mobilise the youth, the opposition objected to his holding two portfolios and demanded that he relinquish one.
The senior party member said once the parliamentary party decided to appoint loyal members to the posts of speaker and his deputy, it was pointed out that Khan was the most suitable candidate for the position. PML-N President Nawaz Sharif then urged Shahbaz Sharif on Saturday, not to hold Khan’s past performance against him and allow him to continue his office.
The office of speaker is second only to that of the house in a provincial assembly. They said the PML-N had been betrayed earlier by former speakers Mian Manzoor Ahmed Wattoo (1985-1990) and Chaudhery Pervez Elahi (1997-1999).
The party was satisfied with Khan because he was very mindful of rules of the procedure. He would seek permission from the house before taking any action.
The deputy speaker-designate Sardar Sher Ali Gorchani has no prior experience in running the house. Party officials say he is loyal to the Sharif family. Gorchani had run from PP-248 in Rajanpur and relinquished his ticket from PP-247 in favour of Shahbaz Sharif, who won there.
Former MPA Samina Khawar Hayat said Shahbaz Sharif had made the institution worthless by appointing a ‘yes-man’ who did not know a thing about legislation. She said the party had several senior law-makers to choose from including Chaudhry Iqbal, who had been elected seven times, Manazir Ali Ranjha (five times) and Raja Ashfaq Sarwar. Mian Atta Muhammad Manika from South Punjab too was competent and seasoned.
Gorchani said it was an honour for the people of south Punjab that he had been nominated as deputy speaker. He said he would continue his efforts for a southern Punjab province and the restoration of the Bahawalpur province. As one of the youngest members of assembly at 32, Gorchani hopes to fulfil the expectations of the people of Jampur, his constituency.
Khan said he would run the affairs of the house according to the rules of procedure. He said he would continue to be a neutral custodian of the house.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 3rd, 2013.