MUZAFFARABAD: Chaudhry Anwar-ul-Haq and Riaz Ahmed of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) were elected speaker and deputy speaker of the Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) Legislative Assembly, respectively, on Tuesday.
They defeated Raja Faisal Mumtaz Rathore of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Nisara Abbasi of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) by securing 32 votes each as against 15 each of their opponents. Mr Rathore and Ms Abbasi were joint candidates of the two parties.
Earlier, at the inaugural session, 49 out of 52 newly elected members of the AJK Legislative Assembly were administered the oath of office by outgoing speaker Shah Ghulam Qadir.
Since PPP’s Chaudhry Mohammad Yasin has returned from two constituencies of Kotli district and has to take oath from any one of his choice within 30 days, the virtual numerical strength of the assembly is 52, instead of 53, and that of the PPP 11, instead of 12. The PML-N has seven votes.
Both parties had earlier fielded joint candidates for the three reserved seats and have also announced to field a joint candidate for the office of prime minister, election to which is slated for Wednesday.
The PTI has 32 votes and two state-based parties — the Muslim Conference (MC) and the Jammu Kashmir Peoples Party (JKPP) — have one vote each.
However, at the inaugural session, Mr Yasin and Javed Iqbal Badhanvi of the PPP and Sardar Attique Ahmed Khan of the MC did not show up, and 49 members participated in the voting process.
In the speaker’s election, one vote in favour of the PTI candidate and another in favour of Mr Rathore were rejected.
After Mr Haq was declared successful and he took oath, he presided over the ensuing proceedings and conducted election for the office of deputy speaker.
However, this time round, Mr Haq did not cast his vote after an objection by Majid Khan of his own party that the speaker could cast his vote only if an election ended in a tie.
Addressing the house, after administering oath to the deputy speaker, Mr Haq expressed his gratitude to the PTI leadership for reposing confidence in him and vowed not to suppress the voice of the opposition.
Published in Dawn, August 4th, 2021