Pakistan National Assembly Meets As PTI Protests Against Convening An“Incomplete” House


(MENAFN- NewsIn) By K

The post-election Pakistan National Assembly met on Friday to elect a Speaker. But the session saw the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) led by the incarcerated Imran Khan, vigorously protesting against the convening of an“incomplete” House with the reserved seats for women and the minorities not being filled fully.

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) is still to take a decision on allotting a portion of the reserved seats to the PTI. The issue is
whether the PTI, whose members had fought and won as“Independents”, could join a registered party and claim their quota of reserved seats on the basis of their number in the House.

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The PTI's argument is that it can, but this is challenged by the other parties. The ECP is yet to make up its mind.

Meanwhile the House has gone ahead with electing a Speaker and is to allow the formation of a six-party coalition government led by the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) on Saturday.

The PTI, comprising 93 Independent MNAs, is the single largest group in the House. It could challenge the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz)-Pakistan Peoples' Party (PPP) coalition, if it gets its quota of reserved seats.

PTI Independent Omar Ayub made a fiery speech on the floor of the House soon after Assembly session began to elect a Speaker and Deputy Speaker.

“The House is incomplete without women seats. How can you do this procedure? How can we run this House?” Ayub asked.“Let the rightful candidates come into this House, who had a rightful mandate. Let Imran Khan come into this House. We want justice.”

President Alvi's U-turn

Pakistan's President Arif Alvi on Thursday took a U-turn on the issue of convening an 'incomplete' National Assembly and allowed the existing members to take the oath.

Alvi took this step to honour a constitutional need to call for a session of the newly elected Assembly within 21 days of the elections which were held on February 8.

He was also under pressure from the Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar
    Kakar and the Secretariat of the National Assembly.

    The issue causing the delay was about the grant of reserved seats to the Pakistan Tehreek-e (PTI)-Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) alliance. This alliance should get 23 of the 70 seats reserved for women and the minorities on the basis of proportional representation.

    The decision on whether PTI-SIC alliance was qualified to get the seats rested with the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). And the ECP was dragging its feet on it.

    The problem was that the PTI group in the Assembly comprised 93 members who had contested as Independents and who had joined the Sunni Ittehad Council after the elections.

    Furthermore, the Pakistani Establishment (namely the army) might not have liked the PTI getting stronger in the House and even making a bid to form the government on the basis of the fact that it is the single largest group in the Assembly. It is well known that there is no love between the army and the PTI.

    President Arif Alvi, being an ex-PTI man, was taking a stand sympathetic to the PTI-backed Independents and was delaying the convening of the Assembly until the ECP resolved the reserved seats issue.

    But ultimately, under pressure from the caretaker government and the army, he gave in and convened the Assembly on the grounds that the deadline for convening the Assembly was February 29.

    The President was under pressure also from the National Assembly Secretariat which had summoned a session on its own with a notification on Wednesday. It stated that the session would start at 10 am on Thursday. In a late-night development, President Alvi approved a calling for a session on Thursday morning.

    After electing the Speaker and Deputy Speaker, the Assembly will select a Leader of the House, or Prime Minister on the third day of the session. Shehbaz Sharif of Pakistan Muslim League (N) is the joint candidate for the PM post against PTI-backed Omar Ayub while Ayaz Sadiq will contest the Speaker's election against the PTI-backed Amir Dogar.

    The PML(N) and the Pakistan Peoples' Party (PPP) had reached a power-sharing deal last week after the latter agreed to support Shehbaz Sharif for the PM seat in return for Governorships and Senate chairman slot. PPP patriarch Asif Zardari is to be elected Pakistan President in the Presidential election due on March 9.

    Issue of Reserved Seats

    The issue of allocating reserved seats to the PTI Independents is complicated. According to the law an independent candidate could join any political party. It does not say that the Independent can join only a political party which has an elected member in parliament. The word used in Article 51 is a“political party”, not a“parliamentary party”. Therefore, the Independents could join the Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) which is a party registered with the ECP but it has no representation in parliament.

    PPP's Farooq H. Naek also pointed out that the SIC had not submitted any list for the reserved seats. He said that as per Section 104 of the Elections Act, a new list could not be submitted after the date of the nomination papers had passed. But this was refuted by the PTI with examples from the past.

    Imran's Group is Powerful

    However, whether the PTI gets its quota of reserved seats or not, its formidable presence in the National Assembly with 93 members could present a constant challenge to the PML-N-led coalition government.

    The PTI's decision to stay in the game seems to have frustrated the plan that aimed to completely side-line the party, wrote Zahid Hussein in Dawn.

    Hussein further said that notwithstanding the alleged manipulation in the election process, the fact is that the polls have changed the country's political dynamics making it extremely hard for the ubiquitous Security Establishment (the army) to set its own rules. Its leadership seems to have come out bruised in the process.

    “It has been a vote against the military's role in the political power play as well as its overarching presence in almost all aspects of the State. Yet there is no indication of the Generals taking a back seat. Instead, the meddling of the security establishment in politics is likely to be enhanced, given the fragmented electoral mandate. Its reported role in pushing the PML-N and PPP to reach an agreement on the formation of a coalition government has not been denied,” Hussein said.

    END

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