ISLAMABAD: PML-N's Sardar Ayaz Sadiq on Monday emerged as the choice of Speaker for the Lower House of Parliament once again. Sadiq bagged 268 votes while Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf's (PTI) Shafqat Mahmood received 31.
Sadiq is the first person in the country's history to have been elected National Assembly (NA) Speaker for the second time during the same government's tenure.
The NA Speaker had been deseated by an election tribunal in August which accepted PTI chairman Imran Khan's petition challenging Sadiq's 2013 election win.
He had defeated Imran Khan during the 2013 polls, and recently reclaimed his seat by contesting against PTI's Aleem Khan in the NA-122 by-polls.
Sadiq addresses House after taking oath
The newly-elected Speaker thanked the members of the House for their support in electing him as speaker with a two-thirds majority.
He individually thanked Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for nominating him for the post, and went on to thank other parties including the PPP, MQM, Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl, PML-F, as well as independent members for deposing their trust in him.
"I am also thankful to all PTI members who voted their conscience and empowered democracy by being a part of this process. This win is not just mine, but that of democracy, the Constitution and the parliament," he said.
"With counsel from parliamentary leaders, we will run the House such that everyone's opinions will be taken into account," the newly-elected Speaker said.
"Kashmir is a cause close to us and we will keep it on our agenda and try to make progress in this area."
"In terms of parliamentary diplomacy, we will try to keep in touch with foreign parliaments and invite them to the country to show them the real Pakistan ─ not the image the media shows, but our Pakistan."
"The right to information and freedom of expression will be protected as much as possible. We will make our operations open to the media and public," he said, calling on the media reporting on parliament to play a responsible role in promoting a positive image of Pakistan.
"'Green parliament' was a dream all of us shared and it is still under way. By next month, the National Assembly will be the world's second parliament running on solar power."
After reminding the House of his achievements during his earlier tenure as Speaker, Sadiq expressed his resolve to continue performing in the same manner.
Shafqat Mahmood highlights gap between NA, people
PTI leader Shafqat Mahmood while addressing the House highlighted the disconnect between the House's business and the concerns of the people.
"This disconnect between people's concerns and what we are doing, it is necessary to dispel it. We should be able to feel that we are discussing the problems that are relevant to the daily lives of the people."
Giving the example of the recent earthquake and the heatwave which hit parts of the country earlier this year, he said that the resolution which had been introduced regarding the latter was only being discussed now.
He proposed the re-introduction of a "zero-hour" during which members of the House could discuss emerging issues. "We should set aside a time to discuss these issues."
"PTI believes that if something is illegal, it is our duty to raise the issue," he said. "We are doing whatever we can to strengthen democracy."
"I am hopeful that we can all progress together and strengthen democracy."
Tenure will be a test of your neutrality: Khursheed Shah
The Leader of the Opposition Khursheed Shah congratulated both Sadiq and Mahmood on the election and praised the PTI leader for his acceptance of the decision, saying "This is a win for you."
Shah stressed on the need for electoral reforms. "This is the need of the hour and should be worked on urgently. The quicker we do so, issues regarding elections and democracy in the future can be solved."
Loosely quoting Benazir Bhutto, he said that a Speaker should run independently and unopposed. "She wanted to see parliament independent and the role of Speaker as independent," he said.
"The time for elections will continue to draw nearer and the House will debate a great deal," Shah said.
Addressing Sadiq, the Opposition Leader said, "You should know why you are here and why the people have confidence in you... I am hopeful that you will play your role as Speaker to the best of your ability."
"This time will be a test for you and of your neutrality," he said.
Imran should show some sportsman spirit: Hamza Shahbaz
Speaking to media representatives outside the House, Hamza Shahbaz referring to Imran Khan said: "Forget this 'dhandli dhandli' mantra…You have wasted a lot of time with accusations and 'dharnas' and no proof has been found that support your claims.”
"The people of Pakistan are looking to us to help solve their problems," Hamza, who is the son of Chief Minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif, said.
"This win is a win for Pakistan...the power of a vote has been recognised by the people…Imran should show some sportsman spirit; he has been one," he said.
"He should submit to the will of the people."