Punjab MPAs take oath; election for speaker, deputy speaker to be held tomorrow

Published February 23, 2024
The image shows PML-N leaders Marriyum Aurangzeb and Maryam Nawaz taking oath at the inaugural Punjab Assembly session on Friday. — DawnNewsTV
The image shows PML-N leaders Marriyum Aurangzeb and Maryam Nawaz taking oath at the inaugural Punjab Assembly session on Friday. — DawnNewsTV

Amid protests and delays, newly elected representatives were sworn into the Punjab Assembly on Friday.

The session was summoned by Punjab Governor Balighur Rehman a day earlier after the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) partially notified lawmakers on seats reserved for women and minorities.

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. So far, the Election Commission of Pakistan has issued notifications for 42 reserved seats for women and five for minorities.

On Feb 8, elections were held for 296 general seats, as polling for one seat was postponed due to the death of a candidate. It should be mentioned that the previous assembly was dissolved in January 2023 and the province had been functioning in the absence of the provincial legislature for a little over a year.

Today’s session was scheduled to begin at 10. However, it was delayed by more than two hours and when it finally began, it was paused for Friday prayers.

The ball finally got rolling shortly after 2:30pm when outgoing Punjab Assembly speaker Sibtain Khan administered the oath to the MPAs-elec. He further congratulated all the MPAs on assuming their new role and wished them success.

PML-N’s nominee for Punjab chief minister Maryam Nawaz, former federal minister Marriyum Aurangzeb and PTI leader Aamir Dogar were among those in attendance.

It should be mentioned that this is the first time Maryam has been elected as a lawmaker.

From the PML-N, 193 lawmakers took the oath while 98 members of the Sunni Ittehad Council — which has been recently joined by PTI-backed independents who emerged victorious in the polls — were sworn in. Ten members of the PML-Q, 13 belonging to the PPP, five from the Istehkam-i-Pakistan Party, and one each from Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan and Pakistan Muslim League-Zia also took oath.

In an announcement following the oath, the speaker’s secretary said elections for the speaker and deputy speaker will be held via a secret ballot tomorrow (Saturday) under Rules 9 and 10 of the Rules of Procedure of the Provincial Assembly of Punjab, 1997.

He added that nomination papers for the slots of speaker and deputy speaker could be submitted to him before 5pm today. The scrutiny of the papers would be completed at 5:10pm while that of the deputy speaker’s slot would be done at 5:20pm, the secretary added.

He also said that a four-member panel of chairpersons had been formed to chair proceedings of the Punjab Assembly in the absence of the speaker and deputy speaker. The panel comprises Malik Muhammad Ahmad Khan, Raheela Naeem, Syed Ali Haider Gilani and Saima Kanwal.

After the announcements, the MPAs signed the register roll in alphabetical order.

During the proceedings, the house reverberated with slogans chanted by the supporters of various parties sitting in the galleries.

Protests and face-offs

Earlier in the day, the PTI claimed its MPAs — now SIC members — were stopped from entering the premises of the assembly. Speaking to Dawn.com, PTI leader Sheikh Imtiaz lamented that he and his colleagues reached the assembly in “hiding”.

In a post on social media platform X, the PTI also decried the huge deployment of police outside the Punjab Assembly building, alleging that they were sent to arrest the party’s MPAs.

Meanwhile, a face-off between PTI and PML-N members was also reported outside the assembly, with both groups chanting slogans against each other.

Amid the chaos, outgoing Punjab Assembly speaker Sibtain Khan vowed to “make sure” that all newly elected lawmakers who had arrived at the provincial assembly would be allowed to attend the session.

“I will go and check that if any of our MPAs are standing outside [the PA], I will make sure that they enter here,” he told reporters outside the assembly.

Top offices

Today, PML-N’s Malik Ahmad Khan and Malik Zaheer Iqbal Channer submitted their nomination papers for the slot of Punjab Assembly speaker and deputy speaker, respectively.

Meanwhile, SIC members Ahmad Khan Bhachar and Muhammad Moeenuddin Riaz Qureshi submitted their papers for the speaker and deputy speaker positions.

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

According to the Feb 8 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, the PPP has three reserved seats for women, two have gone to the PML-Q and the IPP has just one seat.

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