No contest for speaker and deputy speaker
PESHAWAR, March 28: One hundred and sixteen newly-elected lawmakers were sworn in as members of the NWFP assembly on Friday.
Veteran parliamentarian Arbab Ayub Jan of the Awami National Party administered the oath because Bakht Jehan Khan had quit the post of the assembly’s speaker in Oct last year.
Arbab Jan announced that elections for the post of speaker and deputy speaker would be held on Saturday, although Karamatullah Chagarmati of the PPP and Khushdil Khan of the ANP have been technically elected unopposed because no other nomination papers were filed by the specified time of Friday noon.
This is a 124-member house, but eight MPAs did not turn up. Anwar Saifullah Khan who won two seats (PF-74 and PF-75 Lakki Marwat) was absent. Three MPAs who also won National Assembly seats have surrendered their provincial seats.
Polling in three constituencies – Battagram (PF-59), Swat (PF-81) and Upper Dir (PF-92) – has been postponed because of deaths of candidates.
When the session began, Sardar Israrullah Khan Gandapur rose on a point of order to ask Arbab Jan under which constitution were they going to take the oath. The chair said they would take the oath under the 1973 Constitution.
Atiqur Rehman from Hangu and Qalb-i-Hasan from Kohat drew the attention of the chair to sectarian killing in Kohat and said that law-enforcement agencies had failed to provide security.
They staged a walkout in protest against what they called a security agencies’ complete disregard for the life and property of the people.
Bashir Ahmed Bilour of the ANP opposed a debate on the law and order situation in the province. He said the house was incomplete because some MPAs were yet to take oath.
“First we should take oath and then start a debate on issues like law and order and sectarian killing,” he added.
Soon after the oath-taking ceremony, the newly-built hall reverberated with the slogans of ‘Jeay Bhutto’ and ‘Zinda hai Bibib zinda hai’. A young ANP MPA from Peshawar raised slogans for Baacha Khan.
The house unanimously adopted a resolution, moved by Abdul Akbar Khan of the Pakistan People’s Party, demanding an inquiry by the United Nations into the assassination of PPP chairperson Benazir Bhutto.
The house paid tribute to the courage and commitment of the valiant lady to the cause of democracy and welfare of the people.
The house unanimously adopted a resolution against the publication of blasphemous caricatures in Danish newspapers and asked the government to sever diplomatic ties with Denmark.
The chair adjourned the session for Saturday.