KARACHI, May 29: A hundred and fifty-four newly-elected members of the Sindh Assembly were administered the oath on Wednesday by outgoing speaker Nisar Khuhro at the assembly’s first session after the May 11 general elections.
The members rising in their seats took the oath in three groups by reading the text after the speaker in Urdu, Sindhi and English.
The administration of the oath was followed by signing of the roll of members in the presence of acting secretary of the provincial assembly G.M. Umar Farooq by every member. The roll was signed by members when called one by one first from those elected on general seats, followed by women and non-Muslims returned on reserved seats on the basis of the listing system.
Although after the notification of 29 women and nine non-Muslim members against reserved seats, the total strength of the Sindh Assembly rose to 158, only 154 MPAs were present at the oath-taking session, which marked the beginning of the parliamentary year.
Dr Arbab Ghulam Rahim, now of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, and Seema Zia of the Pakistan Tekreek-i-Insaf did not turn up while Shagufta Jumani of the Pakistan Peoples Party appeared undecided whether to retain her Sindh Assembly or National Assembly seat as her name appeared on both reserved lists of the PPP.
The fourth member is outgoing speaker Nisar Khuhro himself, who would be administered the oath by the new speaker to be elected on Thursday.
In the house of 168 MPAs, 10 constituencies’ results were yet to be announced by the election commission. They were withheld either due to re-polling or owing to stay orders granted by courts. On two seats elections were postponed due to the death or killing of a candidate.
With the inclusion of members against reserved seats, the party-wise strength is: 87 of the PPP, 48 of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, 10 of the Pakistan Muslim League-Functional, nine of the PML-N and four of the PTI.
Earlier, as members belonging to the PPP, MQM, PML-F, PML-N and PTI were called for signing the roll, the house echoed with slogans raised by party workers in support of their leaders who were sitting in the overcrowded visitors gallery. The slogans included ‘Jeay Bhutto’, ‘Jeay Benazir’, ‘Bhutto family hero, hero, baqi sub zero, zero’, ‘Naara-i-Altaf, Jeay Altaf’, ‘Bhej Pagara’, ‘Sher aya, sher aya, Nawaz aya’, and ‘Kaun Bachaega Pakistan, Imran Khan’.
Unlike the visitors’ gallery, where much enthusiasm was witnessed among PPP supporters, the press gallery and the governor’s and speaker’s galleries were disciplined though equally overcrowded.
Similarly, all open spaces on the premises and outside on Court Road remained occupied by vehicles belonging to new members who had come to attend the session. There were so many vehicles that those on foot faced difficulty in entering the assembly building.
At the entry gate on Court Road, a crowd seeking entry to the building was unruly and even journalists had to struggle hard to enter the assembly hall.
Speaker Nisar Khuhro, who called the house in order at 11am, before calling it a day at 12.45pm after the completion of the formality of administration of the oath, reminded the lawmakers of the election schedule for filing nomination forms according to the procedure for the election of the new speaker and deputy speaker for which polling would be held on Thursday starting at 9.30am by secret ballot.
He also announced that on Thursday evening elections of the leader of the house would also be completed through an open house.
Acting secretary Farooq said on Wednesday the secretariat had received three candidates’ nomination forms for the office of the speaker and an equal number of forms for the post of the deputy speaker from the PPP, the MQM, and PML candidates. After scrutiny all forms were found valid and were displayed on the assembly notice board.
The candidates are: PPP: Agha Siraj Durrani (speaker) and Syeda Shehla Raza (deputy speaker); MQM: Khwaja Izhar-ul-Hasan (speaker) and Heer Ismail Soho (deputy speaker); PML: Irfanullah Khan Marwat (speaker) and Nusrat Sehar Abbasi (deputy speaker).
Before polling at 9.30am on Thursday any candidates could withdraw from the contest, he added.
Leader of the house
Referring to the procedure for the election of the leader of the house, Mr Farooq told Dawn that after the announcement of the result of the speaker and deputy speaker contests, nomination forms for the slot of the leader of the house could be collected from the assembly secretariat.
The forms would be received duly filled by 4pm the same day, followed by scrutiny at 5pm and display of valid candidates at 6pm on the notice board while open voting would be held at 6.30pm.
According to the procedure, if there are more than one candidate, every member of the house would be given a card with his seat number and would be asked to pass through the Ays or Nays gate, but in case there are more than two candidates, the number of gates would be increased accordingly.