ISLAMABAD - A 325-member blend of veteran and new entrants yesterday took oath as members of the 15th National Assembly — amid slogans, clamouring and cheers from the jam-packed visitors’ galleries.
The inaugural of the new assembly marked the 3rd consecutive democratic transition, and the newly-elected members included a number of couples as well close relatives.
Whereas the assembly featured many major players, some key figure were made conspicuous by their absence – like former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, JUI-F head Maulana Fazlur Rehman, ANP chief Asfandyar Wali, JI chief Sirajul Haq and ex-minister Saad Rafique.
The outgoing Speaker Ayaz Sadiq administered oath to the MNAs-elect in the 342-member House in the maiden session.
The session began with the MNAs-elect standing up for the national anthem and a recitation of the Holy Quran. Ayaz Sadiq then read out the procedure for the election of the speaker and deputy speaker.
The incoming lawmakers stood up as the speaker administered the oath of office to them and the MNAs-elect were then asked to proceed to the speaker’s desk to sign the roll of members in alphabetical order.
Being first in the alphabetical order, former president and PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari was the first to be called to sign the roll.
Other prominent political leaders who sworn in included prime minister-in-waiting and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Mian Shehbaz Sharif, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, Sardar Akhtar Mengal, Khwaja Asif, Khursheed Shah and Shah Mehmood Qureshi.
Members of the major political parties including PTI, PPP-P and MQM-P thumped desks and vigorously chanted slogans for their party leaders. They were also joined by supporters of their parties from guest galleries.
Imran Khan, before the start of the opening session, quietly entered the House and the members only noted his presence among them when he had almost settled on the chair next to the one allocated for Leader of the House (Prime Minister).
Khan was welcomed by his party members with thumping of the desks for quite some time. Khan rose from his seat to thank them and later shook hands with some of those who bee-lined to him.
The PTI chief, who was wearing white Shalwar Qameez, stepped forward from his seat to shake hands with notables of major parties including Asif Zardari, Bilawal Bhutto and Shehbaz Sharif.
The elected members and supporters from the guest galleries chanted slogans for their parties’ bigwigs as they entered the House, who, after taking oath, went to sign the roll. The outgoing speaker politely asked the guests sitting in the galleries thrice to avoid chanting slogans and blowing whistles.
The House, in its opening session, witnessed a rare scene as many heavyweights along with their scions took oaths.
The July 2018 polls with several other interesting results also paved the way for ‘father and son’, ‘husband and wife’, ‘brother and sister’ and ‘mother and daughter’ pairs to become members of the Parliament.
Former president Asif Zardari and his son Bilawal from the PPP-P and Shah Mehmood Qureshi and his son Zain Qureshi from the PTI took oath at a same time.
Zardari stepped in the National Assembly after 25 years as last time he had become member of the House in 1993. In the past, he remained member of the NA twice, besides being a member of the Senate.
Pervaiz Malik, his wife Shaista Pervaiz Malik and son Ali Pervaiz Malik from the PML-N, Khwaja Asif and his wife Musarrat Asif from the PML-N and Javed Shah Jilani and his wife Mehreen Bhutto also took oath.
From Khar family, PTI’s Hina Rabbani Khar and her brother Ghulam Rabani Khar along with other members of their extended family also became part of the House.
The opening session was also studded with former key government dignitaries who included former president Asif Zardari, former prime minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf and former caretaker prime minister Mian Muhammad Soomro.
The former chief ministers of different provinces including Shehbaz Sharif, Ameer Haider Khan Hoti, Ali Mehar, Aftab Shaban Meerani, Pervaiz Khattak and Sardar Akhtar Mengal were also part of the newly-elected House.
Shehbaz Sharif has won a seat of NA from Lahore. He was elected both as an MNA and MPA in the July 25 election and he decided to retain his National Assembly seat.
Likewise, three former speakers of the National Assembly, Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, Fehmida Mirza and Fakhar Imam were also administered oath.
Fehmida Mirza was the 18th Speaker of the NA from 2008 to 2013 during the previous PPP government.
Fakhr Imam got elected from NA-150 (Khanewal-I) as an independent candidate. He was 11th speaker of the National Assembly from March 22, 1985 to May 26, 1986.
Ayaz Sadiq, the outgoing speaker, won a National Assembly seat from NA-129 (Lahore-VII) on the PML-N ticket.
PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari made his debut in the Parliament. The PPP member Shagufta Jumani was prominent from her party chanting full-throat ‘Jiyay Bhutto’ slogans at intervals.
The House echoed with slogans ‘Sher aya Sher aya’ as PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif was called to sign the roll after taking oath.
Likewise, the PTI members and supporters from the galleries chanted slogans ‘Wazir-e-Azam Imran Khan’ as he signed the roll.
Asifa Bhutto and Bakhtawar Bhutto, daughters of former president Asif Ali Zardari, were prominent in the visitors’ galleries cheering for their party members and taking pictures with their cell phones.
Elected members of major parties including the PTI, PML-N and PPP took pictures with their respective leaders, Imran, Shehbaz, Zardari and Bilawal during the session.
After completion of the swearing-in ceremony, the speaker adjourned the session until 10 am on August 15, when the new speaker and deputy speaker of the assembly will be elected.
An animated new assembly opens!