First democratic transition: National Assembly members sworn in

ISLAMABAD: Newly elected members of the National Assembly took oath during the first session of the 14th National Assembly on Saturday.

The oath was administered by the outgoing speaker of the National Assembly Fehmida Mirza.

The election for the slot of speaker and deputy speaker will be held on June 3, 2013, the outgoing speaker said.

With a simple majority in the 342-member National Assembly, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz will take on the helm of affairs at a time when Pakistan is facing myriad problems from militancy to a shaky economy, worsening power crisis and failing public education and healthcare systems.

Unlike its predecessors, PML-N has secured a simple majority contrary to pre-poll projections and is going to be in a far more comfortable position than the outgoing Pakistan Peoples Party-led government, which had to deal with diverse, and demanding, coalition partners.

The National Assembly will also be occupied by around 190 first time MNAs and will witness the return of some veteran politicians, particularly some disgruntled Baloch leaders who were not a part of the system during the previous five years.

Pashtunkhwa Milli Awami Party chief Mehmood Khan Achakzai, former railways minister Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed, former premier Mir Zafarullah Jamali and Pakistan Muslim League-Zia leader Ijazul Haq are to name a few who have made a comeback in the National Assembly.

Following the oath taking ceremony, there was a roll signing ceremony and the session was then adjourned for Monday.

On June 4, nomination papers for the election of the new prime minister will be filed, which will likely culminate in the new premier taking oath on June 5.

Radio Pakistan reported that PML-N has nominated Ayaz Sadiq as the Speaker for the National Assembly and Murtaza Javed as the Deputy Speaker. They will face a parliamentary election on Monday.

“I thank Allah who gave our nation an opportunity to bring a new government through elections,” Sharif told reporters at Islamabad airport where he arrived from his home town Lahore. Sharif was on Saturday nominated by his party as the Leader of the House in the National Assembly.

“It is a good development that a peaceful democratic transition is taking place today. There could not be a better way to change a government through ballot. I congratulate the nation over it.”

Pakistan’s 65-year history has been punctuated by three periods of military rule. The country achieved its democratic milestone by completing its full five-year term under a coalition government led by the Pakistan People’s Party.

But the PPP was routed at the polls, blamed by voters for five years of apathy and drift which saw crippling power shortages worsen and militancy continue almost unabated.

PML-N leaders said they work with the opposition to take on the various problems confronting the country.

“We will closely coordinate with the opposition parties to tackle the enormous problems facing our country,” senior PML-N figure and newly elected MP Ahsan Iqbal told reporters.

Missing members

Even though the inaugural session, when the oath was administered, some faces were absent at the celebratory occasion. These included upto ten elected MNAs.

Foremost in those absent were Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chairman Imran Khan and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman.

Other prominent absentees included PTI vice chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi, who is facing re-polling in Thar. Another notable face missing was Jamshed Dasti.