Islamabad: Pakistan’s newly-elected Parliament on Wednesday voted nominees of Prime Minister-in-waiting Imran Khan’s party as the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, kicking off the process of transition and handing over powers to the new government.
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s Asad Qaiser, a former speaker of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly, defeated Pakistan Peoples Party’s (PPP) stalwart Syed Khursheed Shah, who was fielded by the joint opposition alliance for the speaker’s post.
The election was held through secret ballot. Qaiser received 176 votes against Shah’s 146. Eight votes were rejected.
Outgoing Speaker Ayaz Sadiq administered the oath to Qaiser among loud chants of “vote ko izzat do” by opposition lawmakers, the report said.
After the announcement, Qaiser shook hands with opposition leaders seated in the front row. He will supervise the election process of the prime minister.
Later, Qaiser oversaw the election of the deputy speaker. PTI’s Qasim Suri was elected as deputy speaker. He defeated opposition candidate – Asad Rehman of Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA).
Suri got 183 votes while his opponent Rehman got 144 votes. One vote was rejected.
Strict security measures were put in place to avoid any untoward incident during the proceedings.
After the election of the speaker and deputy speaker, the process for election of the prime minister or leader of the house has started for which 65-year-old Khan has filed his nomination papers.
The joint opposition has announced to field Shahbaz Sharif against Khan.
The election for the premiership will be held on 17 August. The voting will be held in open through a division of members in different galleries designated for different candidates.
The Prime Minister-elect will take oath on 18 August.
On Monday, Khan along with 329 newly-elected members of the National Assembly took the oath, setting the stage for the cricketer-turned-politician to form the next government, only the second democratic transition of power in the country’s history.
The maiden session of the 15th National Assembly saw Speaker Sadiq administer the oath to the leaders in the 342-member house, 19 days after PTI emerged as the single largest party in the general elections.
Khan and other prominent leaders including Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) chief Shahbaz Sharif, PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and former president Asif Ali Zardari also took the oath.
The PML-N, the PPP, and the MMA forged an alliance after elections and decided to field joint candidates for the posts of Prime Minister, Speaker and Deputy Speaker.
They agreed that the Prime Minister candidate will be from the PML-N, Speaker from the PPP and Deputy Speaker from the MMA.
However, PPP’s Khursheed Shah said that his party has “serious reservations” over Sharif’s nomination due to his past controversial statements against their leadership.
The PTI emerged as the single largest party with 116 seats in 25 July elections. Its number increased to 125 after nine independent members joined it and final tally reached 158 after it was allotted 28 out of 60 seats reserved for women and five out of 10 seats reserved for minorities.
The new government faces a strong opposition as the PML-N has a final tally of 82 seats, followed by the PPP with 53 and MMA 15 seats.
The PTI has the support of smaller parties including Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) with seven seats, Balochistan Awami Party five, Balochistan National Party four, Pakistan Muslim League three, Grand Democratic Alliance three, Awami Muslim League and Jamori Watan Party one seat each.
This will be the third consecutive democratic government in Pakistan since 2008 when military ruler Gen Pervez Musharraf announced elections after serving as president from 2001 to 2008 following a bloodless coup in 1999.
The PPP formed the government in 2008, followed by the PML-N led by jailed former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in 2013.