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Saturday, April 20, 2024  
09 Shawwal 1445  

Pandemonium in National Assembly as newly elected MNAs sworn in

The ruling coalition nominates Ayaz Sadiq for NA speaker
MNAs-elect are being sworn in at the inaugural session of the 16th National Assembly. Radio Pakistan
MNAs-elect are being sworn in at the inaugural session of the 16th National Assembly. Radio Pakistan
Screengrab via PTV Parliament
Screengrab via PTV Parliament

Newly-elected members of the National Assembly were sworn in as lawmakers on Thursday amid uproar from the Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) who raised slogans.

The National Assembly’s maiden session began more than one hour after the scheduled time on Thursday. The Sunni Ittehad Council – which has over 80 seats after PTI-backed candidates joined it — protested and chanted slogans when Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf began the session.

The pandemonium continued as the Speaker administered the oath of office to the newly elected MNAs.

NA record shows at least 282 MNA in the 336-member house took the oath on Thursday. At least 23 reserved seats in the National Assembly have not been allotted to any political party.

Ruling coalition candidate for prime minister Shehbaz Sharif, his brother Nawaz Sharif, former president Asif Ali Zardari, and PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari were also present in the House.

 Screengrab via PTV Parliament
Screengrab via PTV Parliament

After the MNAs were sworn in, PTI’s Barrister Gohar and Omar Ayub spoke on the point of order. They reiterated PTI’s stance on the election rigging and said members sitting to their left were ‘alien’ in the house.

PTI also said that without a decision on the 23 reserved seats that were to go to SIC, the house was not complete.

When PMLN’s Khawaja Asif rose to counter their claims, PTI/SIC members raised slogans in an attempt to dissuade him from speaking.

Speaker Ashraf said no one raised slogans when PTI’s Gohar was speaking on the point of order.

Finally, Khawaja Asif countered the PTI claims by saying that SIC had not submitted a list for the reserved seats and that it had told the ECP that it had no claim on the seats.

As soon as Asif ended his point of order he removed his wristwatch and waved it to the House in an apparent reference to the allegation against PTI founder Imran Khan.

The speaker adjourned the NA session until 10 am on Friday when the House will meet again to elect a new speaker and deputy speaker.

Security beefed up

The capital city administration has increased the security at the Red Zone in Islamabad, hours before the session.

The administration has closed the entry of unrelated staff to Parliament and the constitutional avenue. A heavy contingent of police has also been deployed at all entry points.

The decision was taken after the Sunni Ittehad Council announced its decision to protest against alleged rigging in elections inside Parliament and outside it.

Sources said that lawmakers from the ruling alliance would not allow any opposition MNA to get near to the dais of the speaker.

According to the NA Secretariat, as many as 210 lawmakers are party of the treasury and the opposition has 101 MNAs.

The secretariat is still waiting for the notification of 26 elected MNAs as the decision on the reserved seats for women in KP and Punjab could not be made.

Alvi summons NA session at eleventh hour

President Arif Alvi summoned the National Assembly session on Thursday (today) to elect the custodian of the House and deputy speaker, hours after the outgoing speaker convened the session.

In a statement on X, the president said that his returning the summary for a National Assembly session was “very much in accordance with the provisions of Article 48(1)” of the Constitution.

The maiden session of the lower house of Parliament is scheduled to start at 10am, Radio Pakistan reported. According to the agenda, newly elected representatives would take oath during the session.

“It is not understood on what grounds it has been taken as a partisan act, though it was also aimed at the completion of the National Assembly in accordance with Article 51 of the Constitution,” the president’s statement said.

Alvi said that he “did not want to indulge and engage himself or to dwell into such baseless accusations of constitutional violation attributed in the summary”.

He further remarked that it was “needless to remind that a caretaker prime minister/setup was merely responsible to ensure conducive conditions for the peaceful, fair and transparent holding of the general elections, […] on which many quarters had expressed reservations”.

The president also expressed concerns over the tone of language expressed in a summary sent by the caretaker prime minister.

“Summaries are not usually addressed in this way. It is sad that [the] chief executive of the country addresses the head of the state in the first form and resorts to unacceptable language and allegations without any substance.”

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Raja Pervez Ashraf

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