ISLAMABAD (Rahnuma) The newly elected 329 members of Pakistan’s National Assembly on Monday took oath of their office, vowing to work for betterment of people and strengthening of democracy in the country.
The swearing-in marked the second consecutive democratic transition of power in the country’s history. Visitors’ galleries of the lower house of parliament were packed to capacity to witness the historic moment.
The maiden session of the assembly began in the morning with the members-elect standing up for the national anthem and recitation of the Holy Qur’an. This was followed by the swearing-in of the members.
Outgoing National Assembly Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq administered the oath to the lawmakers-elect in the 342-member house. He then asked all the legislators to proceed to the speaker’s desk to sign the roll of members in alphabetical order.
Pakistan People’s Party co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari was the first to sign the roll amid chants by the party workers sitting in the visitors’ galleries.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman and Prime Minister in-waiting Imran Khan also took the oath. PTI workers sitting in the assembly’s visitors’ galleries chanted: “Prime Minister, Imran Khan,” when he signed the roll. The PTI has emerged as the single largest party in the July 25 polls with 158 seats — but it is still short of 14 members in the house to prove its simple majority.
PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, who entered the National Assembly for his maiden term, was conspicuous among all other members. When he came in the house, Imran got up from his seat and shook hands with him, and posed for a photo in the assembly.
Other prominent members who took the oath included Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz president Shehbaz Sharif, ex-premiers Raja Pervez Ashraf and Mian Muhammad Soomro, former Speakers Fakhar Imam and Fehmida Mirza.
Besides Asif Zardari and his son Bilawal Bhutto, other father and sons due elected to the assembly include Shah Mahmood Qureshi and his son Zain Qureshi, Pervaiz Malik and his son Ali Pervaiz Malik.
Former chief ministers of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Ameer Haider Khan Hoti and Pervaiz Khattak and Punjab chief minister Shehbaz Sharif also made it to the National Assembly this time and took the oath.
Before adjourning the session, the outgoing Speaker Ayaz Sadiq read out procedure for election of speaker and deputy speaker, for which the candidates can submit their nomination papers by Tuesday noon.
The PTI has nominated Asad Qaiser for the coveted slot of Speaker National Assembly, and it has yet to announce a candidate for deputy speaker.
The 11-parties opposition alliance in the assembly has already nominated PPP’s leader Khursheed Shah for the position of speaker, and Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman’s son Asad-ur-Rehman for the post of deputy speaker.
Elections for the post of speaker and deputy speaker will take place on Wednesday. As per rules of business, the speaker is considered custodian of the house. He is also responsible for maintaining decorum and order during the session.
Speaking to media after the swearing-in ceremony, PTI’s central information Secretary Fawad Chaudhry lauded the “positive role” of the opposition members in the lower house of parliament.
“The opposition has played a responsible role (in the assembly),” he said. “The opposition should play an active role to run the proceedings of the house smoothly.”
To a question, he said that his party would try its best to come up to the people’s expectations through good governance. “We are in touch with all parliamentary parties and ready to take them on board before making any decision for the welfare of the people,” he added.
Members from the opposition parties said the incoming government of the PTI will have to deliver on its election promises and they would support it on all positive issues.
“We wish the PTI to fulfill its promises of good governance and improve the education and health sectors through investment on human development,” said Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar, spokesman to Bilawal Bhutto, while talking to media persons outside the Parliament House.
PML-N lawmaker Ahsan Iqbal said the PTI leadership has created high hopes among the masses in the past five years and now is the time that it should come up to people’s expectations. “We will keep pressure on the government through peaceful
protest and press it to fulfill its promises of structural reforms in all state-run institutions,” he added.
To avoid any untoward incident, strict security measures were taken during the session. Heavy contingents of police and Rangers were deployed outside the Parliament House while entry of irrelevant persons on the premises was banned.
The National Assembly session will resume on Aug. 15 to elect the speaker and deputy speaker of the House.