• Maryam set to become Punjab CM as PML-N lays claim to 199 seats in 371-member house
• PTI to protest ‘stolen mandate’ outside assembly
• Sindh Assembly session summoned to meet tomorrow
• ECP partially notifies reserved seats; 27 announcements still pending for Punjab, three for Sindh Assembly

LAHORE / KARACHI / ISLAMABAD: The newly elected representatives of the Punjab and Sindh assemblies are set to take the oath of office in their maiden sessions, to be held today (Friday) and tomorrow, respectively.

The PTI, meanwhile, plans to protest the alleged snatching of the party’s Pun­jab Assembly seats through vote rigging.

On Thursday, Punjab Governor Balighur Rehman summoned the maiden session of the 18th provincial assembly to meet on Friday after the Election Commission of Pakistan partially issued notifications of the lawmakers on seats reserved for women and minorities.

The outgoing Punjab Assembly spea­ker, Sibtain Khan, will administer the oath to the members of the new assembly.

As per the procedure, the assembly secretary will then announce a four-member panel of chairpersons to be nominated by the speaker for each session under Rule 13(1) of Rules of Procedure of the Provincial Assembly of the Punjab, 1997.

Members of that panel are authorised, in their nomination order, to chair proceedings of the house in the absence of speaker and deputy speaker.

The secretary will then announce the procedure to elect the speaker and deputy speaker as envisaged in Rules 9 and 10 of the Punjab Assembly Rules.

The session will then be prorogued to be summoned anew for electing the new speaker and deputy speaker of the house, to be followed by the election of the leader of the house, i.e., the chief minister.

The Punjab Assembly is the largest elected house in the country, with 371 seats, comprising 297 general seats and 74 reserved seats, including 66 for women and eight for minorities.

Top offices

The PML-N has nominated Maryam Nawaz Sharif for chief minister, while the rival PTI has fielded Mian Aslam Iqbal for the slot. However, Mr Iqbal is unavailable as he was said to be in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa after getting bail from the Peshawar High Court.

Likewise, Mian Mujtaba Shujaur Rehman and Zaheer Iqbal Channer are the most likely PML-N candidates for the speaker and deputy speaker slots, while the PTI has yet to announce its nominees for the two offices.

Mr Rehman is a seasoned politician who has won for the fifth consecutive term and served as the provincial finance minister under Shehbaz Sharif’s administration in Punjab. Mr Channer, from Bahawalpur, is the son of Iqbal Channer, who has been a cabinet member in the Shehbaz government.

Reserved seats in Punjab

On Feb 8, elections were held for 296 general seats, as polling for one seat was postponed due to the death of a candidate. As the ECP has so far issued notifications for 42 reserved seats for women and five for minorities, around 343 MPAs-elect will be able to take the oath of their offices in the first session to bring the 18th house into being.

According to election results, the PML-N secured 138 general seats in the Punjab Assembly, while PTI-backed independents claimed 114.

Of the 23 other independent candidates not supported by the PTI, 20 have joined the PML-N, taking its tally to 158, while one has joined the PPP, which already bagged 10 seats.

The PML-Q clinched eight seats, while one seat each went to the Istehkam-i-Pakistan Party, Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakis­tan and Pakistan Muslim League-Zia.

Of the notified reserved seats, the PML-N has secured 36 seats for women and five seats for minorities to take its total number of MPAs to 199, comfortably above the required simple majority of 186 members.

Meanwhile, PPP has three reserved seats for women, two have gone to the PML-Q and the IPP has just one seat.

In Punjab, PML-N women’s seats have gone to Zakia Khan, Ishrat Ashraf, Mariam Aurang Zeb, Azma Zahid Bokhari, Hina Parvez Butt, Salma Saadia Temur, Rahila Naeem, Bushra Anjum Butt, Sania Ashiq Jabeen, Salma Butt, Kanwal Pervez Chaudhry, Mehwish Sultana, Nausheen Adnan, Asma Ehtisham ul Haq, Kausar Javed, Uzma Jabeen, Ambreen Ismail, Mumtaz Begum, Sunbal Malik Hassan, Rukhsana Kausar, Shazia Rizwan, Motiya Begum, Rabia Naseem Farooqi, Sonia Ashir, Uzma Kardar, Safia Saeed, Tahia Noon, Amina Hassan, Asma Naz, Tahira Mushtaq, Zaib Un Nisa Awan, Fatima Begum, Qudsia Batool, Riffat Abbasi, Atiya Iftikhar and Rushda Lodhi.

The PPP women lawmakers in Punjab are Shazia Abid, Neelam Jabbar Chaudhary and Nargis Faiz Malik, while the PML-Q will have Tashfeen Safdar and Saima Saeed in the assembly. The IPP’s Sarah Ahmad has been notified on the party’s only seat for women in Punjab.

The ECP has yet to issue notifications for 24 women seats and three for minorities. Apparently, these notifications have been withheld until a court decision on petitions filed by the PTI to claim these seats based on its 114 independent candidates.

In addition, out of the total eight reserved seats for minorities in Punjab Assembly, five have been allocated to the PML-N. The non-Muslim seats have gone to Falbous Christopher, Emmanuel Ather, Ramesh Singh Arora, Khalil Tahir and Shakeela Javed.

Sindh Assembly

Meanwhile, the newly elected representatives of the Sindh Assembly will take oath in the first session of the new provincial assembly on Saturday (tomorrow).

Late on Thursday, Sindh Governor Kamran Tessori called the first session of the provincial assembly, approving the recommendation of caretaker Chief Minister Maqbool Baqar.

The sitting of the assembly for electing its speaker will be presided over by the outgoing speaker or, in his absence, by the person nominated by the governor. Immediately after the speaker’s election, the assembly will proceed to elect a deputy speaker.

After the election for these two posts, the assembly will proceed to elect one of its members as the chief minister without any debate.

In the Feb 8 general elections held on 130 general seats of the Sindh Assembly, the PPP secured 87 seats, followed by the MQM-P (28 seats), GDA (two seats) and Jamaat-i-Islami (two seats). PTI-backed independent candidates managed to secure 11 seats.

The PPP enjoys a comfortable majority in the house and it doesn’t need support from any other party to get its speaker, deputy speaker and chief minister elected.

The partially notified list of women and minority candidates for the Sindh Assembly contains eight non-Muslim legislators and 27 women.

The Sindh Assembly has a total of 29 reserved seats for women and nine for non-Muslims. Of these, the PPP has been allotted 20 seats for women and six for minorities; MQM-P has secured six seats for women and one minority seat, while the GDA has obtained just one reserved seat for women. This means that the notifications for two reserved seats for women and one minority seat are still pending.

In Sindh, the PPP’s women legislators will include Seema Khurram,Tanzila Umi Habiba,Rehanan Laghari, Bibi Yasmeen Shah, Nuhzat Pathan, Syeda Marvi Faseeh, Sadia Javed, Farzana Hanif, Sajeela, Hina Dastagir,Rukhsana Parveen, Heer Soho, Nida Khuhro, Saima Agha, Rooma Sabahat, Arooba Rabbani, Khairunisa, Maleeha Manzoor, Shazia Umar and Shaheena.

Meanwhile, Hamir Singh, Mukesh Kumar Chawla, Giyanoo Mal, Sham Sunder, Khatumal and Anthony Naveed have been picked on minority seats.

MQM-Pakistan will be represented by the following women: Sofia Saeed Shah, Sikandar Khatoon, Kiran Maqsood, Farah Sohail, Qurat Ul Ain Khan and Bilqees Mukhtar. Meanwhile, Mukesh Kumar Hasija and Aneel Kumar will be their non-Muslim representatives.

The GDA’s sole women’s seat has gone to Fozia Kausar.

PTI to protest ‘rigging’

Meanwhile, as the Punjab Assembly’s elected candidates are set to take the oath in its maiden session today, the PTI plans to protest the alleged snatching of provincial assembly seats through massive rigging.

In a late-night development on Thursday, the PTI leadership decided that all party-backed winning candidates led by the party’s nominee for Punjab chief ministership, Mian Aslam Iqbal, will attend the Punjab Assembly’s maiden session.

Hammad Azhar, PTI’s general secretary for central Punjab, announced on X (formerly Twitter) that all the PTI-backed candidates who were defeated through “rigging” in the results calculations in Form 47s would stage a protest demonstration in front of the Punjab Assembly. Party workers and supporters would also join the protest demonstration.

Mr Azhar said the “PDM gang” would never do anything good for the people as they were now answerable to those candidates whom people had given heavy mandate. “The masses’ situation will improve when people will be allowed to choose their leaders,” he said.

The PTI leadership has strongly agitated against the tactics being employed to keep Mr Iqbal away from taking part in the chief minister’s election and ensure the field is open for Maryam Nawaz Sharif to assume the top office.

Asked whether all the PTI-backed winning candidates would attend the session, a PTI spokesman said there was no compulsion on the party-backed candidates to take oath on Friday. “They may take oath any time later,” he added.

Mansoor Malik in Lahore also contributed to this report

Published in Dawn, February 23rd, 2024

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