ISLAMABAD: Candidates elected to the National Assembly as well as three provincial legislatures in the wake of July 25 general election took oath on Monday as lawmakers to kick start process of the historic second democratic transition of power in the country.
The maiden session of the 15th National Assembly that was summoned by the President of Pakistan started at around 10am amid heightened security in the federal capital in general and around the Parliament House in particular.
MNAs take the oath during the inaugural session of the assembly. PHOTO: APP
On Monday all eyes were on the MNA-elects with media men swarming in and outside of the Parliament House to catch a glimpse of the elected lawmakers. The assembly hall looked comparatively solemn with many new faces apparently getting the feel of the house.
However, the former president Asif Ali Zardari stood out among these MNA-elects. Zardari, who is also co-chairman of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) returned to the parliament after 22 years. He entered the house along with former prime minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, who has also been reelected after a gap.
Six former chief ministers were also present in the house. These included Pervez Khattak, Amir Hiader Khan Hoti, Shehbaz Sharif, Akhtar Mengal, Aftab Mirani and Ali Muhammad Mehr.
PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari shakes hand with PTI chairman Imran Khan. PHOTO: APP
The session was also unique as three pairs of fathers and sons took oath as MNAs. These included Zardari and his son Bilawal Bhutto, Pervaiz Malik and his son Ali Pervaiz Malik, and Shah Mehmood Qureshi and his son Zain Qureshi.
When the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief and prime minister-in-waiting, Imran Khan, entered the hall, the house echoed with his party slogans and thumping of desks. Imran sat near the seat of the leader of the house which was left vacant as a protocol.
The PTI chief also shook hands with his political rivals, the PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto, who is elected to any legislature for the first time, and his father Zardari, as well as the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Shehbaz Sharif.
The PTI’s Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi sat next to Imran in the front row on the treasury benches while the Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s (MQM) Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui and Akhtar Mengal of the Balochistan National Party-Mengal also took seats besides them.
On the opposition benches, the front row was occupied by the PML-N leaders – Shehbaz Sharif, Ahsan Iqbal, Khawaja Asif – while the PPP Chairman Bilawal, Zardari and former opposition leader Khursheed Shah were sitting together.
PPP leaders take the oath. -APP
Though the seats have yet to be allocated to the members of National Assembly, majority of the PTI lawmakers and their allies sat on the treasury benches while members of the PPP, the PML-N and others were sitting on the benches traditionally assigned to opposition.
After arrival of the majority of elected candidates and formal start of the session with recitation from the Holy Quran and naat, Speaker Ayaz Sadiq read out the procedure for the election of the new speaker and deputy speaker and then administered oath of office to the new members.
The MNAs then proceeded to the speaker’s desk on order of Urdu alphabets to sign the roll of members. Zardari was the first to be called to sign the roll amid slogans of ‘Jiye Bhutto’.
Bilawal’s sisters – Bakhtawar and Aseefa – also witnessed the proceedings, and accorded standing ovation to their father and brother when their names were called to sign the roll register.
Shehbaz, whose party is the second largest party in the house, was also greeted with party slogans.
However, the house came to life when name of the PTI chief was called. “Wazeri-e-Azam Imran Khan, Ai Ai PTI” were the slogans from the galleries while the party lawmakers and allied parties stood up and thumped the desks.
After the completion of swearing-in ceremony, the speaker adjourned the session until 10am of August 15, when the election will be held for new speaker and deputy speaker of the assembly.
The PTI has nominated former speaker of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly Asad Qaiser for the office of speaker while Khursheed Shah of the PPP is the joint candidate of the 11-party opposition party’s alliance.
The PTI Chairman Imran Khan will be contesting against the PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif for the office of the prime minister. The election for the PM will be held on August 17.
Sindh Assembly session
Sindh Assembly Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani administered oaths to 160 members of the house that comprises 168 MPAs. Five members could not make it to the proceedings while three seats are currently vacant due to the death of a candidate and withholding of notifications at two constituencies.
The house echoed with slogans shouted by supporters of various political parties, who were witnessing the proceedings from the packed visitors’ galleries. When Durrani asked the members of their choice of language in which they would take the oath, majority of the legislators opted for Sindhi.
Other members took oath in Urdu while only three members chose to take the oath in English.
Durrani, who has also won the provincial assembly seat from Shikarpur, first took the oath himself. After the oath-taking ceremony, members came to the podium to sign the attendance roll.
K-P lawmakers sworn in
Owing to absence of the Khyber Pakhtunkwa (K-P) Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser, who was in Islamabad to take oath as an MNA, Sardar Aurangzeb Nalota of the PML-N was tasked by the K-P Governor Iqbal Zafar Jhagra to administer the oath to new lawmakers.
After a recitation from the Holy Quran, Nalota congratulated the lawmakers for getting elected to the assembly and then asked them to stand up to take the oath. The 111 members, including those elected on general and reserved seats, took oath.
There are a total of 124 members in the K-P Assembly. On July 25, election was postponed on two seats including PK-78 and PK-99 where terror attacks had claimed lives of two candidates.
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), on the other hand, called for a re-polls at PK-23 after it emerged that the turnout of women voters in the constituency was less than the required 10 per cent.
The remaining 10 seats fell vacant after lawmakers, who had been elected simultaneously from the provincial and National Assembly seats, vacated their provincial seats.
These include seats vacated by former K-P chief minister Pervez Khattak (two seats), Asad Qaiser, Ali Amin Gandapur, Ameer Haider Khan Hoti and Dr Amjad Ali.
The newly-elected 59 members of the Balochistan Assembly took oath of their office during the first session of the 11th Balochistan Assembly. The session started with recitation of the Holy Quran after which Speaker Rahila Durrani administered oath to the new members.
[WITH ADDITIONAL INPUT FROM OUR CORRESPONDENTS IN KARACHI, QUETTA & PESHAWAR & APP]