PESHAWAR, May 29: The newly-elected members of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly on Wednesday took the oath of office here, a landmark step for the transfer of power from one elected government to another democratic setup in the country’s history.Of the total 124 members, 121 took the oath and signed the roll of members.
Outgoing Speaker Kiramatullah Khan Chagharmatti administered the oath.
He said the members could take oath in Urdu, Pashto and English but members took the oath in Urdu.
The new House is a combination of old and new faces.
Former chief minister Ameer Haider Khan Hoti, former opposition leader Akram Khan Durrani and Naeema Akhtar of Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl, who was elected on one of the seats reserved for women, did not take the oath as they have decided to retain their National Assembly seats.
The visitors’ galleries were jam-packed though the assembly secretariat had directed not to issue cards to guests.
Despite that, supporters and relatives of the elected lawmakers entered the hall and occupied seats in the visitors’ galleries and even in the press gallery.
The new House has the representation of Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf, JUI-F, Jamaat-i-Islami, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, Awami National Party, Pakistan Peoples Party, Awami Jamhoori Ittehad Pakistan, All Pakistan Muslim League and Qaumi Watan Party, while there are two independent members.
The elected members violated their oath on the first day of the assembly when they prevailed upon the outgoing speaker to allow them to express their views on the floor of the House though it was incomplete.
The speaker’s staff advised the chair that Article 53 of the Constitution did not allow the carrying out of the business other than election of the speaker and deputy speaker in the maiden session. They also said the House was incomplete.
However, Israrullah Gandapur said members could address the House under Section 241 of the provincial assembly procedure and conduct of business rules.
“They (members) violated oath and parliamentary traditions on the first day,” said a senior official.
The House will elect the speaker and deputy speaker on Thursday.
PTI’s Asad Qaisar from Swabi district and Imtiaz Shahid Qureshi from Kohat district have filed nomination papers for the post of the speaker and the deputy speaker respectively.
Combined opposition consisting of JUI-F, PML-N, ANP and PPP fielded Munawar Khan for the office of the speaker and Arbab Akbar Hayat for that of the deputy speaker.
Nomination papers could be withdrawn before 11pm on Wednesday.
The former chief minister, outgoing speaker and former deputy speaker were elected to their respective offices unopposed.
Parliamentary parties, both of the treasury and the opposition, held separate meetings and discussed the line of action for the election of the speaker and the deputy speaker.
Sources said nominated speaker Asad Qaisar and chief minister Pervez Khattak of PTI visited the opposition chamber after the meeting of their party’s parliamentary party and urged the opposition parties not to field candidates for three key posts. However, the opposition did not agree.
Sardar Hussain Babak of ANP congratulated the nation for smooth transition of power and assured full cooperation on behalf of the opposition to the government in waiting.
He said Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was in deep trouble due to militancy and other issues and that the people had pinned high hopes on the next government.
The lawmaker said the new assembly would follow its positive traditions and operate like a ‘grand jirga.’
Fakhr-i-Azam of PPP said he was hopeful that the US drone strikes in Fata, a serious issue, would come to an end and an era of prosperity would begin in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa after the installation of the new government.
Shaukat Yousafzai of PTI said the new government won’t confront the opposition and would focus on addressing major issues, including lawlessness and unemployment.
The outgoing speaker declared corruption, lawlessness and loadshedding the major challenges for the next government and admitted that the previous government couldn’t resolve them despite hectic efforts.