LAHORE - As many as 353 elected representatives took oath of the 17th Assembly of the Punjab here yesterday. House Speaker Rana Muhammad Iqbal Khan administered the oath.
The proceedings of the House started at 10:40am, 40 minutes late the fixed time. After taking oath, the MPAs signed members’ roll-call in the order of their respective constituencies.
The members of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz attended the inaugural session wearing black bands on arms in protest against alleged rigging in elections and manipulation of their results.
The former ruling party had secured a lead in the elections by pocketing 127 seats but is likely to sit on opposition benches as the rival PTI – which won 122 seats – has managed a majority coalition.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf members kept their cool despite the provocation by their rivals, who even used objectionable remarks against prime minister-in-waiting Imran Khan and other leaders of his party.
The 371-member assembly is still short of 12 members. Of these, six seats have been vacated by five MPAs who had won multiple seats.
And, elections on three seats were suspended on different grounds while the results of another three were held back by the Election Commission.
Interestingly, six members of the total existing strength of 359 members in the House did not show up for oath-taking. They included PTI’s Sardar Muhammad Khan Leghari and PML-N dissenter Ch Nisar Ali Khan, who contested polls independently.
All of the rest four absentees were from Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz. They are Mian Jameel Ahmad, Malik Muhammad Waheed, Nafisa Ameen and Syeda Uzma Qadri – who is the wife of PML-N rebel Zaeem Hussain Qadri.
PTI leads the House with 176 seats (general seats 139, women reserved seats 33 and four minorities seats).
The PML-N follows with 162 members (128 general seats, 30 women reserved seats and four minority members).
The PML-Q has 10 seats, PPP seven and Pakistan Rahe Haq Party one seat, while there are three independently elected members.
As many as 176 members have been elected to Punjab Assembly for the first time, of them 88 are from PTI (general seats) and 27 from PML-N.
The new entrants include PML-N leader Hamza Shehbaz Sharif (named CM candidate by his party), Dr Yasmin Rashid of the PTI, Dost Muhammad Mazari (nominated by PTI for Deputy Speaker slot) and senior journalist Jugnu Mohsin (Independent).
Twelve of the old faces are those who were ministers in the former Punjab cabinet.
Former Punjab Chief Minister Ch Pervez Elahi (named by the PTI for Speaker slot) has returned to the PA after 10 years.
The PML-N leader Khwaja Saad is again in the PA after he was first time elected to this house in 1997 while Abdul Aleem Khan of the PTI has become MPA after he remained part of this forum from 2002 to 2007.
The July 25 election has swapped the position of the PML-N and the PTI in the PA. The N-League that was on ruling side in the last assembly, was sitting in the opposition and the PTI from the Opposition to the treasury benches although their positions have yet to be determined by the CM election.
The PML-Q – which is part of PTI coalition – has also saw a change of fate, while the PPP is still on the Opposition benches.
The jam packed House, up to the gallery, witnessed smiling faces of the members although the PML-N MPAs passed certain objectionable remarks against members of the other side and slightly created a scene.
The N league members warmly welcomed when Hamza and Saad came to the rostrum to sign the roll call and booed when Aleem Khan came.
Except on one occasion, the PTI members kept their cool and evaded reaction and only passed smiles on N league sloganeering and remarks.
The second-time winner, PML-N MPA Zaibun Nisa came to the House carrying a poster of Nawaz Sharif as the security failed to take away that portrait from her. She raised loud slogans for Nawaz Sharif and other women members backed her.
Hamza and Saad sitting side by side only posed onlookers while Azma Bokhari was seen passing instructions to the agitating women.
A minority member of the PML-N, Tariq Masih Gill came in chains to the House after he too had successfully countered the security resistance outside.
The chair objected to his wearing the shackles when he came to sign the roll-call, but he insisted on keeping himself in chains to express solidarity with Nawaz and hurriedly went away after signing the call.
As many as 13 members-elect were administered in the end as they came after the others had taken oath.
Ch Pervez Elahi along with Murad Raas of the PTI and Ch Zaheeruddin of his party sat on the first row. A number of members on both sides of the aisle liked to shake hand with Pervez before retaking their seats after signing the roll-call.
The Chair adjourned the Assembly to 10am Thursday (today) when election for the new Speaker and the Deputy Speaker will be held.
Details of vacant slots
Of the members who vacated PA slots, four are those who had also won National Assembly seats and they preferred retaining those.
They are PTI’s Tahir Sadiq (who shed PP-3) and Fawad Ch (PP-27); PML-N president Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif (who shed two PA seats i.e. PP-164 and PP-165); and independent Makhdoomzada Syed Basit Ahmad Sultan (PP-272).
PTI leader Makhdum Hashim Jawan Bakht and won two seats (PP-259 and PP-261) and he vacated one of those.
The constituencies where bye-polls are to be held are PP-87 (Mianwali), PP-103 (Faisalabad) and PP-296 (Rajanpur), where PTI candidate Tariq Dreshek had died before issuance of the notification of his victory).
The constituencies where result has been withheld are PP-76 (Sargodha), where Faisal Farooq Cheema of PTI is the unofficial winner; PP-118 (Toba Tek Singh), where Ch Khalid Javed of PML-N is unofficial winner; and PP-177 (Kasur), where Hashim Dogar of PTI is the unofficial winner.