Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly Speaker Babar Saleem Swati swears in Suraiya Bibi as deputy speaker.—INP / Handout
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly Speaker Babar Saleem Swati swears in Suraiya Bibi as deputy speaker.—INP / Handout

• Gandapur to contest against PML-N’s Ibadullah in KP; PPP yet to nominate Balochistan CM candidate
• Babar Saleem Swati becomes KP Assembly speaker; Abdul Khaliq Achakzai bags Balochistan speaker slot unopposed

QUETTA / PESHAWAR: After electing custodians of the house on Thursday, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan lawmakers will respectively elect their leader of the house in the election for the chief minister on Friday and Saturday.

In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the PTI has nominated Ali Amin Gandapur for the coveted slot against PML-N candidate Ibadullah Khan, with the polling scheduled for 10am.

In Balochistan, the PPP which is eyeing the CM seat unopposed has yet to name its nominee, with only a day left in the election. A source told Dawn that the candidate would be announced today (Friday), hoping the PPP CM would get elected unopposed like the Balochistan Assembly speaker.

As the KP Assembly met on Thursday, it elected Babar Saleem Swati as the speaker and Suraiya Bibi as the deputy speaker. Although the session was relatively calm, pro-Imran slogans continued to echo in the house throughout the session.

At the outset of the session, outgoing speaker Mushtaq Ahmad Ghani administered the oath to Abdul Munim and Laiq Khan. The ceremony was followed by voting for the KP Assembly speaker.

The PTI-backed Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) candidate Babar Saleem Swati won the election against Ehsanullah Khan, the joint candidate of the PPP, ANP, PML-N, and the PTI-Parliamentarians.

In the 106-strong house, Mr Swati bagged 89 votes whereas Mr Khan got 17 votes. Mushtaq Ghani administered the oath to newly-elected speaker Swati, who announced voting for the deputy speaker slot. Suraiya Bibi, who won the election from Chitral on a general seat, defeated PTI-P’s Arbab Muhammad Waseem by securing 87 votes against her rival’s 19 votes.

The session was boycotted by the JUI-F.

During the session, a similar situation like Wednesday was seen during the sitting when PTI workers kept chanting pro-Imran Khan slogans from treasury benches.

They also chanted slogans against PML-N’s Sobia Shahid on the second day during the voting of the KP Assembly speaker. Ms Shahid later brandished her shoe at the guest gallery and reached out to the CM-designate Ali Amin Gandapur, who stood up and asked his supporters to calm down.

Balochistan speaker elected unopposed

 Balochistan Assembly Speaker Abdul Khaliq Achakzai administers the oath to Ghazala Gola as deputy speaker.—INP / Handout
Balochistan Assembly Speaker Abdul Khaliq Achakzai administers the oath to Ghazala Gola as deputy speaker.—INP / Handout

In Balochistan, PML-N nominee Abdul Khaliq Achakzai became the speaker while PPP’s Ghazala Gola bagged the deputy speaker slot without facing any opposition.

Mr Achakzai was nominated by the PML-N for the slot at the eleventh hour. Both candidates were declared winners unopposed as no one else had submitted papers for the posts.

The assembly session was presided over by Zamrak Khan Piralizai, who administered oath to the newly-elected speaker. Speaker Achakzai subsequently announced the election of Ghazala Gola unopposed and administered the oath to the deputy speaker.

As oath was being administered to the speaker, National Party chief Dr Abdul Malik, along with three others, walked out of the house. He said he was boycotting the proceedings because the elections were rigged.

After the unopposed election, Speaker Abdul Khaliq Achakzai assured the house that the proceedings of the assembly would be run with consultation and cooperation of all the members and parties. “As custodian of the house, I will treat every member equally and will run the house through cooperation and understanding with all members,” he assured.

He, however, expressed his reservation about the boycott of oath-taking of the speaker and deputy speaker by the National Party.

Interestingly, former interior minister Sarfaraz Bugti was administered oath on Thursday after he skipped Wednesday’s proceedings. The PML-N’s Jam Kamal Alyani and Mir Zafar Zehri did not attend the session.

Published in Dawn, March 1st, 2024

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