ISLAMABAD, June 29: The National Assembly on Tuesday elected Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain new leader of the house in place of Mir Zafarullah Jamali who resigned as prime minister on Saturday , after remaining in office for 20 months.
Chaudhry Shujaat, who was the joint candidate of Pakistan Muslim League and its allied parties, polled 190 votes in the 342-member house, against 76 secured by People's Party Parliamentarians president Makhdoom Amin Fahim who was fielded by the ARD. The Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal abstained from the election process.
Chaudhry Shujaat will be sworn in as the 19th prime minister of Pakistan at 10am today (Wednesday) while he will seek a vote of confidence later in the day. Speaker Chaudhry Amir Hussain prorogued the house after traditional speeches were delivered by the new leader of the house and opposition leaders.
President Pervez Musharraf has summoned the National Assembly to meet at 5pm on June 30 ostensibly for the new prime minister to seek a vote of confidence. Addressing the house after his election, Chaudhry Shujaat said: "We will face internal and external challenges through consultation and consensus and work to uproot the politics of falsehood and negativism.
We will follow the teaching of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him)." "During my tenure in office I will fight on two fronts. first to defend the Islamic and moral values and second to give good governance to the country."
He said his government would also wage a jihad against lawlessness, terrorism, poverty, prejudices, illiteracy and unemployment besides providing good governance.
A total of 327 MNAs present in the house at the time of polling - 190 from ruling coalition parties, 76 from the ARD and its allied parties and 61 from the MMA. Three opposition members did not attend the session: ARD chairman Makhdoom Javed Hashmi is in jail, Abid Sher Ali of PML-N and People's Party Parliamentarians Naheed Khan are abroad.
Earlier, the house witnessed a rumpus when the opposition members registered their protest over the speaker's inability to issue a production order for Makhdoom Javed Hashmi. Makhdoom Amin Fahim criticized the speaker for not issuing the production order.
Speaker Amir Hussain wanted to implement the one-point agenda which was the ascertainment of the leader of the house but opposition members stood in their seats and started raising slogans against the chair's failure to issue the production order.
They also demanded release of the associates of slain PML-N leader Pir Binyamin Rizvi. In his acceptance speech, Chaudhry Shujaat said that he had never aspired for the office of the prime minister nor had he ever lobbied for it as declined the offer to become prime minister made in November 2002.
He said his government would root-out hypocrisy, fraud, injustice, greed and lies from politics. President Pervez Musharraf, he added, had laid the foundation of a prosperous and strong Pakistan by pursuing the policies of economic stability, political security and enlightened moderation and now thegovernment would give a practical shape to these policies.
In his speech, PPP chief Makhdoom Amin Fahim said that political forces who wanted restoration of parliament's supremacy and 1973 Constitution were under tremendous pressure.
He regretted non-production of ARD chairman Makhdoom Javed Hashmi in the house and termed it a murder of democracy. Amin Fahim said that there was a dictator sitting on the top, but the assembly had its own traditions and being the custodian of the house it was the responsibility of the speaker to issue a production order for any member under detention.
He said the supremacy of parliament had been tarnished by imposing a supra-constitutional National Security Council. He asked the newly elected leader of the house to give top priority to law and order and restore the democratic freedom of politicians to move the country without any restrictions.
He condemned the ban imposed by the Sindh government on MMA leaders' entry into the province and also criticized the Punjab government for forcibly removing the body of Pir Binyamin to his native village against the wishes of his family.
Taking the floor, MMA Secretary-General Maulana Fazlur Rahman strongly criticized the change of prime minister and described Mr Jamali's replacement as an insult to parliament's sovereignty.
The MMA leader said the country's future could not be left to the will and whims of an individual. He said the alliance had good reasons for not attending the NSC meeting and the rulers had no right to question its decision.
Fazlur Rehman said the objective of MMA's peace march in Karachi was to create a political and sectarian harmony in the troubled city and it wanted to take along the MQM and the PML in this campaign. But unfortunately the chief minister ordered his expulsion as well as of Qazi Hussain Ahmed.
The MMA leader said removing a prime minister before the completion of his tenure was undemocratic and unconstitutional and Chaudhry Shujaat should continue in the office instead of handing it over to an 'imported' prime minister. He said if the PM-elect intended to continue the MMA would extend full support to him in the interest of democracy.