Newly elected MNAs sworn-in amid protest by PTI-backed lawmakers

Election of speaker, deputy speaker to be held on March 1; NA to elect prime minister on March 4

PML-N leaders Nawaz Sharif, Shehbaz Sharif, Khawaja Asif, PPP Co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari and PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari taking oath along with other newly elected lawmakers in the National Assembly. — Screengrab/PTV News

The 16th National Assembly came into effect on Thursday with the oath-taking of the lawmakers elected on February 8 amid allegations of “rigging” with the highlight being the return of former premier Nawaz Sharif to the Parliament after more than six years.

Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf administered the oath.

PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif, ex-president Asif Zardari, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman were among the top politicians who took the oath today amid protests by the members affiliated with Imran Khan’s party.

The session started with a ruckus as soon as the national anthem ended with the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-backed lawmakers, who have joined the Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC), surrounding the speaker’s dias. 

The party had already announced it would protest in today’s session against the alleged rigging. 

It was after an appeal by the speaker that the lawmakers settled down and the oath was taken by all the members. 

However, as soon as the oath was administered, the SIC lawmakers asked the speaker that they be allowed to speak on a point of order. 

But their request was turned down, as the speaker informed them that they could raise the point of order after they had signed the role of member register.

Amid the signing, the SIC lawmakers started chanting “qaidi number 804” the number given to PTI founder Imran Khan in the Adiala jail where he remains incarcerated since August 2023.

In response, the PML-N lawmakers started shouting “ghari chor” (watch thief) in the House. 

PTI Chairman Gohar Khan holding a banner party founder Imran Khan after signing the role of member register. — Screengrab/PTV News
PTI Chairman Gohar Khan holding a banner party founder Imran Khan after signing the role of member register. — Screengrab/PTV News

The summoning saga

The convening of the assembly’s session, required to be held on the 21st day after the polls under Article 91(2) of the Constitution, was surrounded by uncertainty after President Arif Alvi had stressed the allocation of reserved seats before the session.

Geo News had reported that the president had neither rejected nor accepted the summary and only communicated his verbal response on the matter.

On Monday, in light of Alvi’s reluctance to summon the assembly session, the National Assembly Secretariat convened the session.

However, the president finally summoned the NA session after the political parties warned him of legal consequences.

It is pertinent to mention that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has allocated reserved seats to political parties, but it has not awarded reserved quota to the SIC after the PTI-backed independent candidates joined the party.

A day earlier, the electoral body’s five-member bench, chaired by Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja reserved the verdict on the petitions filed by SIC seeking the allocation of women and minority seats.

Assembly to elect its PM on March 4

Now that the members have taken the oath, the election for the new speaker and deputy speaker will be held tomorrow.

Sardar Ayaz Sadiq of PML-N and Ghulam Mustafa Shah of PPP have submitted nomination papers for the speaker and deputy speaker slots respectively.

After this, the election for the prime minister will be held for which the candidates are required to file their nomination papers on March 3, whereas the voting for the country’s chief executive will be held next week on March 4 (Monday).

Sources say that the newly-elected prime minister is likely to take oath as the country’s chief executive on the same day.

The PML-N, which has the backing of the PPP, Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P), Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) and others, has nominated Shehbaz Sharif as its candidate for the top office.

Whereas, the PTI has fielded Omar Ayub Khan as its candidate for the country’s premier.

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