Newly elected members of the KP Assembly take oath during its maiden session. —Shahbaz Butt / PPI
Newly elected members of the KP Assembly take oath during its maiden session. —Shahbaz Butt / PPI

• 116 legislators take oath amid sloganeering, shouting matches
• Balochistan Assembly elects 57 lawmakers amid tight security
• Election for speaker, deputy speaker in both houses scheduled for today

PESHAWAR / QUETTA: Newly elected members of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan assemblies were sworn in on Wednesday, with Punjab and Sindh MPAs already having taken the oath last week.

In KP, 116 newly elected representatives took the oath in a session marred by ruckus. The meeting of the provincial legislature was summoned by KP Governor Ghulam Ali last week following advice from the caretaker Chief Minister Syed Arshad Hussain Shah.

The first session of the 12th KP Assembly began almost two hours late due to protests and riots by PTI workers present in the gallery and party-backed lawmakers — now members of the Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) — who chanted slogans of “Qaidi number 804” (prisoner number 804) and “Long Live Imran Khan”.

Apart from PTI supporters, party lawmakers were also seen holding portraits of the former prime minister.

Workers of political parties, mostly from the PTI, also took over the government officers’ and media galleries, leaving many journalists outside the assembly building.

Not only the galleries and premises of the KP Assembly but a huge number of workers, mostly party workers and relatives of the elected members, were seen on Khyber Road waiting for their turn to enter the Assembly building.

Inside the assembly hall, Speaker Mushtaq Ahmad Ghani also seemed helpless, as several of his announcements calling for an order in the house went unnoticed.

However, amid all the shouting matches and sloganeering, Mr Ghani managed to administer the oath to 116 MPAs-elect.

Mr Ghani later adjourned the session till 10am today (Thursday), when voting for the speaker and deputy speaker slots is scheduled. He told the house that the nomination papers for both positions could be submitted by 5pm on Wednesday and could be withdrawn by 11pm the same day.

Meanwhile, a lota was thrown at a PML-N lawmaker, Sobia Shahid, who waved a wristwatch in the hall, referring to Imran Khan’s conviction in the Toshakhana case.

Opposition lawmakers later held a news conference on the assembly premises and announced that PPP’s Ehsanullah Miankhel would be the opposition’s joint candidate for the speaker, whereas Arbab Wasim of the PTI-Parliamentarian would contest for the deputy speaker’s slot.

On the other hand, PTI’s Omar Ayub Khan said Imran Khan had nominated Babar Salim Swati as their candidate for the KP Assembly speaker.

Balochistan PA

In Balochistan, 57 newly elected members in the 65-member provincial assembly took the oath in the first session, presided over by senior MPA Zamrak Khan Piralizai in the absence of Speaker Mir Jan Muhammad Khan Jamali.

A lawmaker signs the roll of members during the first session of the Balochistan Assembly.—Shahbaz Butt / PPI
A lawmaker signs the roll of members during the first session of the Balochistan Assembly.—Shahbaz Butt / PPI

The session of the Balochistan Assembly, summoned by Governor Malik Abdul Wali Khan Kakar, began an hour behind the scheduled time of 3pm. Ahead of the meeting, special security arrangements were made in and around the assembly building.

The security was beefed up in response to calls of a protest outside the assembly building by an alliance of four nationalist parties against alleged vote rigging during the Feb 8 polls. However, only two of them — the Hazara Democratic Party (HDP) and Pashtoonkhwa National Awami Party — staged protests on Wednesday and tried to reach the assembly building.

However, their advance was restricted by the blockade of all roads leading to the assembly building and the hundreds of security officials deployed on the way. The roadblocks around the assembly venue led to widespread traffic disruptions across Quetta.

Wednesday’s assembly session saw Mr Piralizai administering the oath to the 57 MPAs-elect.

Absent from the session were eight members: Jam Kamal Khan Alyani, Sardar Muhammad Saleh Bhootani and Muhammad Khan Lehri of PML-N; Mir Zafar Zehri and Muhammad Khalil Dummar of JUI-F; Sarfraz Bugti of PPP; Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani; and Sardar Akhtar Mengal of BNP-M, who left his provincial assembly seat for the National Assembly.

The PML-N was yet to finalise the name of its candidate for the speaker slot on Wednesday night. Sources said the party’s central leadership would announce its nominee on Thursday morning.

However, the PPP has nominated Ghazala Gola for the deputy speakership, who has also taken a nomination form from Assembly Secretary Tahir Shah Kakar and will file her nomination papers on Thursday morning.

Mr Kakar said the schedule for the chief minister’s election would be announced by the elected speaker but was expected on March 4.

The PPP leadership has yet to finalise its candidate for the CM slot. A party leader told Dawn PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari was expected to visit Quetta in the next couple of days to announce the party’s candidate for the chief minister’s slot.

Published in Dawn, February 29th, 2024

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