QUETTA- Newly-elected members of Balochistan Assembly took the oath on Saturday amid tight security and protests by different political parties against poll manipulation. The session commenced about half an hour late from its scheduled time with Speaker Matiullah Agha in the chair.

Sixty-three out of 56 members were sworn in as elected members of Balochistan National Party-Mengal did not turn up in protest over vote-rigging.

Following recitations from the holy Quran, the chair felicitated and welcomed all new members of the House, and hoped they would run the business of the House in accordance with the Constitution.  Saturday’s session agenda was only confined to swearing in of new members.

During the proceedings, PML-N leader and MPA Mir Hasim Kurd Giloo drew the attention of the House to the bomb attack on PML-N provincial president Nawab Sanaullah Zehri in which his son, brother and nephew got killed. Giloo also asked for offering fateha for the departed souls.

Before taking the oath, Pashtoon Khowa Milli Awami Party parliamentary leader Abdul Rahim Ziarat told the House that his party members would take the oath in their mother tongue, Pushto. Backing the point of Ziaratwal, National Party leader Dr Abdul Malik Baloch said his members would also take oath in Baloch and Bravi languages.  Upon this, PML-Q member Mir Abdul Karim Nosharwani opposed the proposal and recommended Urdu for oath taking because it being the national language.

The speaker administered the oath to the members in Urdu. However, some members took the oath in Balochi, Bravi and Pashto languages.

Before adjourning the session, the speaker said that nomination papers for the position of speaker and deputy speaker could be submitted on June 3 to the assembly secretariat and that polling would be held on June 4.

It may be recalled here that the total number of seats in Balochistan Assembly is 65 and election on PB-32 was postponed due to murder of an independent candidate while on PB-29 the court declared disqualified PML-N elected member Abdul Ghafoor Lehri for possessing a fake degree.

At the swearing in ceremony, six members were not present while BNP-Mengal’s Sardar Akthar Mengal and Mir Hamal Kalmati did not attend the session in protest over rigging.

On the other hand, political parties that had convened an all parties conference, rejected the legitimacy of newly-elected assembly in Balochistan, saying this assembly had come to serve the interests of those working through backdoor channel rather than in the interest of the masses.

Balochistan National Party-Mengal leader Dr Jahanzaib Jamaldini, JUI-Ideological Central Secretary General Maulana Abdul Qadir Looni, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leader Abdul Bari and others addressed the protest demonstration organised by the all-parties conference.

Addressing the protestors, APC leaders said a dummy leadership was once again imposed on the people of Balochistan, adding that for the past 65 years some hidden hands were involved in manipulation of the political process for their vested interests. “This is the very reason why the country was standing at the verge of destruction today,” they said, alleging that the new members were brought through rigging.

They said that from the assassination of Nawab Akbar Bugti to the recovery of mutilated bodies of missing Baloch youth, interference of the institutions was clearly evident. They said they wanted to make it clear that the political forces were united for the interest of the masses. They said that they were optimistic about elections in Balochistan, but the results frustrated them. They also said they would continue to protest against injustices being meted out to them.

The protesters also chanted slogans against the government, election commission and other institutions and then dispersed peacefully.