PESHAWAR: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chief Imran Khan’s young guns, his proverbial tsunami overwhelmed the scene at Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly’s inaugural session on Wednesday.
The party’s ‘change’ mantra, an election slogan that sent it to the echelons of power in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in the May 11 polls, produced its protruding first visible impression.
A large team of PTI cub politicians and a strong batch of seasoned political hawks took oath as members of the provincial assembly on their way to lead the upcoming coalition government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly experienced the first glares of change when many of the PTI newcomers took seats where once some of the old hawks, belonging to Awami National Party and Pakistan People’s Party, dominated the House proceedings in the previous assemblies.
The absence of the old hands like Abdul Akbar Khan of Pakistan People’s Party, Mian Iftikhar Hussain of Awami National Party, Pir Sabir Shah of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, Mufti Kifayatullah of Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl and a host of others was overshadowed by PTI’s young and unfamiliar faces, who have made it to the House for the first time.
The youthful Ubaidullah Mayar, Tufail Anjum, Gul Sahib Khan and several others of the young PTI team, with most of its members clad in traditional shalwar kameez and waistcoats, walked to the rostrum on their turn to sign the roll of members, formally becoming members of the provincial assembly.
However, it was not a legislative day that went by without a discord. The less-than-two hour legislative business echoed the strong challenge that lies ahead for the treasury members at the hands of marginalised but experienced opposition lawmakers.
Opposition members, who spoke on the floor of the House on Wednesday, did not shy away from using PTI’s ‘Naya Pakistan’ (new Pakistan) slogan as a taunt, reminding its parliamentary group of its leader’s promise to end US drone attacks in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.
“Measures should immediately be taken to put an end to the drone attacks to restore peace in our province, which is vital to ensure prosperity,” said Fakhr-i-Azam, a young PPP MPA from Bannu.
Out of a house of 124 members of the provincial assembly more than 70 are first timers, mostly belonging to PTI. The newcomers had had their first experience of tense moments during the opening session.
The opposition members made their intentions clear about the direction their parliamentary debates would take in the days ahead.
Touching the PTI’s sensitive nerves, opposition members raised voices against the recent terrorist strikes in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The outgoing speaker assented to the opposition members’ request for dua (prayers) for those killed in the post-May 11 poll terrorist attacks in Peshawar and elsewhere in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Mufti Janan, a JUI-F MPA from Hangu, criticised the caretaker provincial government. The Mufti, sporting a long white beard, who survived a bomb blast on his election event in which more than 14 of his supporters were killed, said the provincial government should have given financial help as compensation to the victims’ families.
His criticism of the management of Peshawar’s Khyber Teaching Hospital for extending inadequate medical treatment to the injured of the Hangu blast drew a quick response from PTI’s parliamentary leader Pervez Khattak, the chief minister in waiting.
Mr Khattak, a proponent of PTI’s policy of holding negotiations with the belligerent Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, promised the legislature that the policy would bring about improvement beyond their expectations.
Without uttering a single word to condemn recent terrorist attacks in the province, he said he had issued special instructions to the hospital authorities to extended ‘VVIP medical treatment’ to all those injured in bomb blasts.
The new assembly experienced its first discord among members as they rose to take oath of their five-year constitutional term.
However, the issue was tactfully handled by the outgoing speaker when a few from among the members-elect asked him to conduct the written oath in Pashto instead of Urdu. Others objected. Mr Chagharmatti prevailed, conducting the oath in Urdu.
Later, PML-N’s Sardar Aurangzeb Nalotha, from the Hindko speaking Hazara division, added insult to injury for the outgoing speaker. Taking the floor of the House, he started to deliver his remarks to welcome the new members in Hindko.
A number of MPAs of Pashto background objected, inviting the chair’s attention that speeches in Hindko were not allowed under the assembly rules.