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ISLAMABAD: The inaugural session of the 16th National Assembly will be held today (Thursday) under Article 91 (2) of the Constitution with President Arif Alvi refusing to sign an earlier summary for summoning the session on the reported grounds of non-allocation of reserved seats to Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC).

According to the Constitution, President Arif Alvi was obligated to call an inaugural session of the National Assembly within 21 days of the February 8 general elections, which marks February 29 as the deadline to do so. However, given his reluctance, National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf took matters into his own hands and summoned the session on the deadline day — February 29.

According to the notification issued by the National Assembly Secretariat, “the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs has intimated that on its request the Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan after obtaining legal opinion of the Ministry of Law and Justice has been pleased to approve that arrangements for first sitting of the National Assembly may be made in terms of clause (2) of Article 91 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Therefore, it is hereby informed that the National Assembly shall meet on Thursday, the 29th February 2024 at 10.00 am in the Parliament House, Islamabad.”

Presidential election schedule to be announced on March 1: ECP yet to decide SIC reserved seats issue

The outgoing Speaker National Assembly Raja Pervaiz Ashraf would chair an inaugural session of new elected National Assembly. In the first sitting of the session of the Lower House of the Parliament, the elected members of the National Assembly will take oath. There are total of 336 members in house including 60 members on reserve seats for women and 10 on seats for minorities.

The outgoing Speaker of National Assembly Raja Pervaiz Ashraf would administrate the oath. In the next sitting, which is likely to be held on Friday (the next day) of the session, the elections for Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly will be held.

After the elections, the winning candidates for constitutional posts for Speaker and Deputy Speaker would take oath. The outgoing Speaker National Assembly would administrate the oath to the newly elected Speaker of the House.

The election for Speaker and Deputy Speaker would be held under clause (1) of Article 53, by secret ballot, states Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the National Assembly, 2007.

Seven out of 10 seats reserved for minorities have also been allocated. The ECP is yet to allot reserved minority and women seats to the Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC), which has allied with the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).

After the election of the Speaker and Deputy Speaker then under Article 91(3) of the Constitution, “After the election of the speaker and the deputy speaker, the National Assembly shall, to the exclusion of any other business, proceed to elect without debate one of its Muslim members to be the Prime Minister.”

In the same way, nomination papers for the prime minister’s election will be submitted to the assembly’s secretariat.

While the election for the speaker, his deputy and the leader of the opposition are free from any religious limitation, the prime minister’s election is open to only the Muslim members of the house. Following the election of the prime minister, the speaker will ask the opposition members to submit the names of candidates, along with their signatures, that they want to make their leader.

“After the [election of the Prime Minister] the Speaker shall inform the members about the date, time and place for submission of a name for the Leader of the Opposition under their signatures,” says the official procedure in Chapter V 39(2).

The third point of the same section adds, “The Speaker shall declare a member as Leader of the Opposition having the greatest numerical strength after verification of the signatures of the members: Provided that any member who is not signatory to the proposal, if he presents himself before the count, and signs the proposal, shall be included in the count.”

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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