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PPP’s Tanzeela Qambrani, PTI’s governor-designate Imran Ismail and GDA’s Nusrat Sehar Abbasi and Ali Gohar Mahar make their way into the assembly building on Monday.—Agencies
PPP’s Tanzeela Qambrani, PTI’s governor-designate Imran Ismail and GDA’s Nusrat Sehar Abbasi and Ali Gohar Mahar make their way into the assembly building on Monday.—Agencies

KARACHI: Amid great fanfare, 160 out of total 168 members of the provincial assembly were sworn in at the first session of the 15th Sindh Assembly, as the house reverberated with party slogans and applause from visitors sitting in packed-to-capacity galleries on Monday.

The Election Commission of Pakistan had notified 165 MPAs-elect, but five of them — three belonging to the Pakistan Peoples Party and one each from the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan — were absent.

PPP’s Fazal Shah Jilani also won a National Assembly seat (NA-209, Khairpur-II) and he opted for it. Four others include Ali Mardan Shah and Ali Nawaz Maher of the PPP, Seema Zia of the PTI and Shahana Ashar of the MQM who are expected to take oath later.

The results of PS-48 (Mirpurkhas) and PS-54 (Tharparkar) are awaited while election on PS-87 (Malir) has been postponed due to the death of a candidate.

Election for speaker, deputy speaker to be held tomorrow

On Monday, outgoing speaker Agha Siraj Durrani first took oath as a member of the new assembly and then administered oath to other MPAs-elect.

More than 100 members took oath in Sindhi and over 50 opted for Urdu. Three lawmakers took oath in English.

Earlier, Mr Durrani welcomed new members and reminded them that it was the same house which had adopted the resolution for the creation of Pakistan; its building housed the country’s first National Assembly and Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah took oath as the first governor general of the country.

After taking the oath, the newly elected MPAs signed the register roll in alphabetical order. It started with those who won the election on general seats and then those who returned to the house on seats reserved for women and religious minorities.

The house reverberated with slogans chanted by supporters of various parties sitting in the galleries.

Murad Ali Shah, who is named as the new leader of the house by the PPP, opted to sit on back benches.

Tanzeela Qambrani, the first Sindhi Sheedi woman lawmaker from Badin district, remained the centre of attraction for the audience. She was wearing an ajrak on an African dress, which she said the community wore on special occasions.

The proceedings of the first day saw acting Governor Agha Siraj Durrani and PTI’s Imran Ismail, who has been named as the next governor of the province, take oath as MPAs.

Former president Asif Ali Zardari’s two sisters — Faryal Talpur and Azra Pechuho — were among those who took oath on Monday.

PPP’s Sharjeel Memon and MQM-P’s Jawed Hanif — who have been imprisoned in NAB references — were brought from the Karachi central prison to the oath-taking ceremony after the speaker issued their production orders.

Security was beefed up around the Sindh Assembly building during the session.

As authorities had opened just one visitors’ door to allow everyone to walk towards the assembly building, a number of new MPAs were among those who parked their vehicles outside the building and had to face immense difficulty in getting inside the premises along with media personnel.

Serious snarl-up was witnessed outside the assembly building that affected various nearby arteries and took several hours to normalise.

Election for speaker, deputy speaker tomorrow

While adjourning the session for Wednesday, Speaker Durrani announced that nomination papers for the election of speaker and deputy speaker could be obtained between 9am and 3pm on Tuesday (today) and would be submitted to the assembly’s secretary up to 5pm the same day.

He said the scrutiny of nomination papers would be held at 6pm and the list of valid papers would be affixed on the notice board of the assembly’s secretary at 7pm.

“The election for the two offices will be held by a secret ballot on Wednesday at 10am,” he concluded.

The PPP enjoys an unassailable lead in the house.

With 75 general, 17 women and five minority seats, the PPP has 97 MPAs in the house which requires 85 seats to form government without anyone else’s support.

With 30 seats, PTI stands second followed by the MQM-P (21), GDA (13), Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (three) and Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (one).

The PPP, which has won a third consecutive term in Sindh, has nominated Mr Durrani as the speaker for a second time with Rehana Leghari as deputy speaker.

Joint opposition decides to face PPP

After taking oath, all opposition parties held a joint meeting and decided to field their candidates for the offices of chief minister, speaker and deputy speaker against PPP candidates.

The collective strength of the opposition parties stands at 68.

After the joint meeting of the opposition, PTI lawmaker Khurram Sher Zaman told media that the opposition parties had decided that the GDA would nominate its candidate for the office of the CM.

The MQM-P and PTI would nominate one lawmaker each for the election of speaker and deputy speaker, respectively.

He further said that the joint opposition also decided in principle that the leader of the opposition would be from the PTI.

Published in Dawn, August 14th, 2018