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LAHORE: In a session marked by delays and tension, newly-elected members of the Punjab Assembly were sworn in on Friday, with reports emerging of the arrest of a PTI-backed lawmaker as proceedings began.

Outgoing Speaker Sibtain Khan administered the oath to 313 newly-elected MPAs during the inaugural session on Friday.

Furthermore, Khan announced the schedule for the election of the new speaker and deputy speaker of the Punjab Assembly, set to take place on Saturday.

The process for submitting nomination papers and their scrutiny continued until 5:30 pm on Friday, with the election scheduled for February 24 through a secret ballot.

Nomination papers for the speaker’s post have been submitted by PML-N’s Malik Mohammad Ahmed and Sunni Ittehad Council’s (SIC’s) Ahmed Khan Picher. Meanwhile, for the deputy speaker’s post, PML-N’s Malik Zaheer Iqbal and Mohammad Moinuddin Riaz are contenders.

After administering the oath, Speaker Khan urged lawmakers to maintain a conducive atmosphere in the assembly and congratulated them on assuming their roles.

Earlier, tensions rose with reports of the arrest of Mian Aslam, a PTI-backed independent lawmaker and nominee for the chief minister’s post, leading Speaker Khan to demand a report on Aslam’s status from the police.

While PML-N lawmakers pushed for the oath-taking, opposition members called for adjourning proceedings until reserve seats were allocated to them.

The session was briefly adjourned by Speaker Khan until after Friday prayers.

He emphasized providing a level playing field to all lawmakers and vowed to address any obstacles faced by representatives.

PML-N has nominated Maryam Nawaz for the chief minister-ship, aiming for her to become the country’s first-ever female chief minister.

Despite challenges from PTI-backed independents, PML-N remains confident in securing sufficient seats to form the government

in Punjab.

Tensions flared at the session’s outset, with PML-N, PTI, and SIC members exchanging heated words and slogans.

In a dramatic entrance, PTI-backed candidate Imtiaz Sheikh arrived at the assembly concealed in a vehicle with tinted windows.

The Sunni Ittehad Council expressed grievances over their members’ access to the assembly, seeking assurance from Speaker Khan.

The Election Commission of Pakistan has yet to issue a list of reserved seats, adding to the uncertainties surrounding the session.

The developments underscore the challenges and dynamics at play as Punjab’s political landscape takes shape.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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