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

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Ruckus in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly as MPAs-elect take oath

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

The 16th National Assembly on Wednesday came into effect with the oath-taking of the lawmakers elected by the people during the February 8 general elections.

The oath to the newly elected MNAs was administered by Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf.

The new oath-taking lawmakers include the country’s political leadership from major parties including the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl (JUI-F) and others.

PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif, President Shehbaz Sharif, PPP Co-chairman Asif Zardari, Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and Maulana Fazlur Rehman are among the top politicians who were seen taking oath for their membership to the Parliament’s the lower house.

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 done in the February 8 general polls. 

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 PTI-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 attendance register.

With this, the speaker directed the NA secretary to summon the lawmakers one by one to sign the attendance 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. 

The development comes as 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 Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) after the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (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.

Various politicians including the PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari have arrived at the NA building ahead of the oath-taking session.

Assembly to elect its PM on March 4

As per the schedule, once Speaker Ashraf administers the oath to the newly-elected legislators, the election will be held for the new speaker and deputy speaker.

For the aforementioned coveted constitutional posts, aspiring candidates are required to submit their nomination papers before 12pm today — with the voting set to be held on Friday (tomorrow).

This would be followed by the election of the prime minister, for which the candidates are required to file their nomination papers on March 3, whereas the election for the country’s chief executive would 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 Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (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.

Composition of lower house

The National Assembly comprises 336 members out of which 266 are elected whereas 70 seats are reserved for women and minorities. These reserved seats are allotted to the parties as per their strength in the house.

Moreover, 169 votes are required to be elected as prime minister. 

In light of this, Shehbaz seems to be in the pole position to secure the victory