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ISLAMABAD: Former prime minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf from the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) was elected unopposed on Saturday as the 22nd Speaker of the National Assembly following the resignation of acting Speaker NA Qasim Khan Suri who stepped down ahead of no-confidence motion moved against him by the ruling coalition.

Ayaz Sadiq, who acted as the Presiding Officer before administering the oath to the new Speaker, confirmed that Suri has tendered resignation from the seat of the Deputy Speaker. Hence, he said, there is no need to take up the no-confidence motion against him, and the related agenda item stood disposed of. Following his election, Ashraf chaired the remaining session of the house.

Speaking on the occasion, he thanked all the parliamentary leaders and members of the lower house for reposing confidence in him. He said he will act in an impartial manner. He said the voice of the opposition will not be suppressed but respected.

Taking the floor, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif felicitated the new speaker on assuming the office. He was confident that Ashraf would take the whole house along and discharge his responsibilities to the best of his abilities as per the law and the Constitution.

The chair directed the NA Secretariat to present before him the resignations tendered by the PTI members as per the previous rulings and precedents so that the matter could be taken forward as per the law.

At the outset, the house offered prayers for the security personnel martyred in recent counter-terrorism operations, Bilquis Edhi, and the Palestinians martyred by Israeli forces in Al-Aqsa Mosque.

The House also adopted a motion for the formation of a parliamentary committee on electoral reforms aimed at bringing reforms in the electoral process for the next general election.

Through a resolution passed unanimously, the house expressed deep grief and sorrow over the passing away of noted philanthropist Bilquis Edhi.

The resolution moved by PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, paid rich tributes to the services rendered by Bilquis Edhi for the marginalized segments of the society. It recognized that Bilquis Edhi worked tirelessly beside her illustrious husband for over 50 years, building and running charity hospitals, orphanages and morgues. It is noted that the philanthropists such as Bilquis Edhi are a blessing for any nation.

Extending condolences to the Edhi family, the resolution suggested that Bilquis Edhi be posthumously awarded the highest civil award. The House also passed a resolution, strongly condemning the physical and verbal attack on the Punjab Assembly’s Deputy Speaker Dost Muhammad Mazari “by the PTI and PML-Q members to sabotage the process of the election of Punjab chief minister.”

The resolution moved by Shaza Fatima voiced concerns over the security of the members of the provincial assembly and blatant violation of the constitution. It urged that law and order be restored and the process of the election of the Punjab chief minister completed.

The resolution also demanded that those responsible for the incident be dealt with according to the law in order to prevent such actions in the future.

Speaking on the floor of the house, the PTI dissident MNA, Raja Riaz, appealed to the House that those who “violated” the Constitution should not be forgiven. He also strongly criticized former Prime Minister Imran Khan for his “failed” policies in governance, economy, and diplomacy.

PML-N leader Khawaja Asif condemned the torture incident on the deputy speaker Punjab assembly. He alleged that Pervaiz Elahi has hired “dreaded criminals” in Punjab Assembly staff.

JUI-F parliamentary leader Asad Mahmood said that the PTI lawmakers should be called personally to confirm their resignations. Akhtar Mengal of the BNP-M criticized former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi. “I have never seen that kind of a person. I don’t know how PPP tolerated him when he was with them prior to joining the PTI,” he added.

He said that his party did not accept the offer to join the federal cabinet. “We are not hungry for power,” Mengal said. By the end of the session, the majority of the member had left and only four were present, but the quorum was not pointed out. The House was adjourned to meet again on Monday.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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