PESHAWAR, June 19: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly is to begin general discussion on the budget for financial year 2013-14 today (Thursday) but Speaker Asad Qaisar has yet to name leader of the opposition in the House.
According to the assembly secretariat, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz with 17 members has emerged as the single largest opposition party in the 124-strong House followed by Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl with 15 members.
JUI-F lost one provincial assembly seat after its leader, Akram Khan Durrani, decided to retain the National Assembly seat. Members of the assembly took the oath on May 29.
Under the rules, the speaker is to invite leader of the largest party on the opposition benches to occupy seat of the opposition leader in the assembly.
Rule 2 of the Provincial Assembly Procedure and Conduct of Business Rules states the member, who, in the opinion of the speaker, is for the time being the leader in the House of the largest party in the opposition.
When contacted, Mr Qaisar confirmed that PML-N was the largest opposition party in the House. He also said PML-N claimed the support of Pakistan People’s Party-Parliamentarian and Awami National Party, which had four members each.
The speaker said he would formally invite the PML-N parliamentary leader to assuming the opposition leader’s seat after checking with PPPP and ANP about their support to him.
He said PPPP and ANP would submit a joint resolution to the assembly secretariat to show their support to PML-N.
Mr Qaisar, however, said PML-N parliamentary leader Sardar Mehtab Abbasi would be invited to initiate general debate on the budget 2013-14, which was presented by finance minister Sirajul Haq in the assembly on June 17.
Leader of the opposition enjoys several perks and privileges, including separate chamber in the assembly secretariat, and that his status is equal to that of a provincial minister.
An official in the assembly secretariat said there was no provision in the rules of business that opposition leader would open discussion on the budget.
He, however, said traditionally, the opposition leader was invited to begin the budget debate and that he/she was given more time for discussion compared to other members.