ISLAMABAD - Amid deafening sloganeering and deep mess created by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf with the support of its allies managed to get its men elected as speaker and deputy speaker of the National Assembly with a clear majority.
It was all smooth till the election of the speaker. As soon as Asad Qaiser was declared winner, there was an outburst from the PML-N MPs who were already wearing black bands on their arms in protest of alleged rigging in the elections.
A total 330 votes cast in the elections for the speaker of the 15th National Assembly of Pakistan, while eight votes were rejected due to invalidity.
Qaiser, who stepped in the shoes of outgoing speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, bagged 176 votes. The nominee of ‘grand opposition alliance’ from Pakistan People’s Party, Syed Khursheed Shah secured 146 votes.
PTI nominee Qasim Khan Suri – who hails from Balochistan – won the contest for the deputy speaker by securing 183 votes out of total 328 cast.
The nominee of the ‘grand opposition alliance’ from Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), Maulana Asad Mehmood got 144 votes. One vote was rejected due to invalidity.
Sources in the National Assembly secretariat said that the eight votes were rejected in speaker’s contest due to different reasons, some of them wrongly stamped while others were without any stamp.
The ten-hour long process of the election of speaker and deputy speaker went ahead in a calm and serene way, but things changed later.
The tumults situation erupted when outgoing Speaker Ayaz Sadiq directed for switching on the mike of outgoing Deputy Speaker Murtaza Javed Abbasi for delivering the speech. In his speech, Abbasi alleged that the July polls were ‘massively rigged’ and the PTI’s mandate was ‘fake’.
However, the newly-elected members from PTI tried to stop him with their shouts when a large number of PML-N members gathered near the podium of speaker and chanted slogans.
The PML-N lawmakers wearing black bands and carrying pictures of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif raised full-throat slogans like ‘Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’, ‘Give respect to vote’, ‘fake mandate unacceptable’.
Some of the newly-elected members from PTI rushed to gather around the Prime Minister-in-waiting Imran Khan.
It was like a match between the members of two political parties (PTI and PML-N), as rest of the parties from both sides were seemingly indifferent to the situation.
The senior members of PTI quickly intervened to avoid turning the verbal brawl into a fist fight. The PTI’s senior members physically stopped their members from chanting slogans.
The PML-N legislators kept shouting the slogans near the chair of Leader of the House for around 15 minutes and the newly-elected speaker was administered oath in the noisy situation.
Imran Khan watched the whole drama with a smiling face.
The hustle and bustle in the election of deputy speaker was comparatively much less as not even a single main leader from both sides of the aisle was present to hear the result announcement.
PTI chief Imran Khan, PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif and PPPP President Asif Ali Zardari all were absent at that time.
The new custodian of the House, Asad Qaiser after taking oath thanked all the members for taking part in the democratic process and reposing confidence in him. He pledged to live up to their expectations.
“It is our duty to rise above personal gains and work for Pakistan. Pakistan is our identity,” he said and assured the elected representatives will be fully facilitated by the assembly staff for legislation. “Will make our best efforts to work for Pakistan,” he added.
Newly-elected deputy speaker Qaim Khan Suri after taking oath also thanked his voters and vowed to work for the betterment of Balochistan.
“I thank every member of the parliament who voted for me,” he said. “The PTI will pay special care to Balochistan,” he added.
Former speaker Ayaz Sadiq on his turn said he will not use words which will be condescending towards the designation of the speaker.
“When the parliament members were called ‘thieves’ [by the PTI leaders], it was quite disheartening for me but I tolerated that,” he said and paid thanks to party’s supermo Nawaz Sharif for choosing his name for the slot of speaker.
“I was accused of leaning more towards the opposition in my tenure,” he said, mentioning the episodes of MQM-P’s resignations and absence of PTI’s members during its sit-in in 2014. “Many a time I heard the members calling me a ‘fake speaker’ but I did not frown,” he said.
Ayaz Sadiq lauded the passage of the Elections Act 2017, which was worked by all political parties. The former speaker however regretted that the Election Commission of Pakistan did not execute its responsibilities as required, despite being given greater powers than before.
PPP’s leader and former opposition leader Khursheed Shah on his turn congratulating the newly-elected speaker said that they would respect the sovereignty of the parliament.
“Our party would never become a hurdle to the passage of legislation meant for the country’s progress, as under Bilawal’s leadership, we will fully play the role of a good opposition,” he said.
PTI’s Shah Mehmood Qureshi in his speech praised PPP President Asif Zardari for playing a ‘positive role’ and showing ‘democratic behaviour’. He also praised Shah for delivering ‘democratic views’ and showing political maturity.
“We expect this democratic behaviour to maintain the sanctity of the house in the future,” he said and thanked their coalition partners – Balochistan National Party (BNP), the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P), Balochistan Awami Party (BAP), PML-Q, Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) – and the independents who supported them.
“We would make all-out efforts to safeguard democratic rights, and [we’re] ready to welcome all criticism from opposition,” he said.
MQM-P Convenor Khalid Maqbol also congratulated both speaker and deputy speaker.
BNP-Mengal chief Sardar Akhtar Mengal on his turn also congratulated the new speaker and deputy speaker. He criticised the PML-N for creating rumpus in the House. “We came here to learn good things from this house but hullabaloo was created here,” he said.
JWP’s Shazain Bugti also congratulated the speaker and deputy speaker. “We are loyal to Pakistan and we never thought of quitting Pakistan,” he said.
Qaiser, Suri new NA custodians