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election 2024

Security beefed up in Islamabad as PTI plans nationwide protests today

People told to avoid area surrounding F9 park
Islamabad police has deployed additional personnel at checkpoints. PHOTO FILE
Islamabad police has deployed additional personnel at checkpoints. PHOTO FILE

Islamabad police beefed up security in the federal capital and banned gatherings on Saturday as the PTI prepared to launch nationwide protests.

Imran Khan’s party has called for protests across the country on Saturday against alleged election rigging.

Islamabad police announced on Saturday morning that security had been put on ‘high alert’ in the city and Section 144 had been imposed.

Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) empowers district administration to issue orders in the public interest that may place a ban on an activity for a specific period of time.

The police have also increased patrolling in the city and deployed additional personnel at checkpoints.

The police said there was possibility of traffic congestion near the F-9 Park and advised people to avoid the area around the location.

An Islamabad police spokesperson also advised people to carry ID documents with them and be cooperative with the policemen at checkpoints.

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Race for new finance minister heats up ahead of IMF negotiations

shehFormer finance minister Dar in lead among three aspirants
A combination of file photos show Habib Bank Limited Chairman Sultan Ali Allana and CEO Muhammad Aurangzeb. Pictures via website
A combination of file photos show Habib Bank Limited Chairman Sultan Ali Allana and CEO Muhammad Aurangzeb. Pictures via website

Newly-formed ruling alliance is yet to finalise its finance minister, the person who has to lead an immediate effort to negotiate a new International Monetary Fund bailout, sources familiar with the discussions said.

The struggling $350 billion economy has a narrow path to recovery and the current IMF agreement expires on April 11, with critical external financing avenues linked to securing another extended programme.

Former four-time finance minister Ishaq Dar remains the top contender, according to two sources in his Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party, which is leading the coalition.

PML-N’s Shehbaz Sharif has been nominated by the alliance to be prime minister in an election scheduled for March 3. He will announce his cabinet, including the finance minister, shortly after being elected.

But Dar is not the only candidate being considered, the sources said. Despite being a relative of, and close aide to, PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif, many political allies have criticised Dar’s handling of the economy in the last coalition set up.

He, however, has defended his actions, saying he had to take tough measures to avert a sovereign default by securing the IMF programme, which former prime minister Imran Khan had scuttled days before leaving his office, a charge Khan denies.

Pakistan struggled for over four months to lock in the stand-by arrangement last summer when Dar was finance minister, and it took the intervention of his prime minister, Shehbaz Sharif, to secure a last-ditch deal.

Dar also regularly criticised the IMF on public platforms in the middle of negotiations, and has long favoured market interventions to prop up the Pakistani rupee - something the IMF has warned against.

If Dar doesn’t get the portfolio, his party might consider creating a position of deputy prime minister for him, one of the sources in the PML-N said.

Also being considered are caretaker Finance Minister Shamshad Akhtar, a former central bank governor, who is overseeing key policy measures under the current IMF programme, both sources said.

Akhtar has been a key part of the caretaker set up that has been praised by the IMF for “decisive policy efforts” to maintain stability.

Another name being considered is Muhammad Aurangzeb, president and chief executive officer of the country’s largest bank, Habib Bank Limited, the sources said.

Aurangzeb had also served as the CEO of JP Morgan’s Global Corporate Bank based in Asia.

Akhtar did not respond to a Reuters request for a comment and Aurangzeb’s HBL said it would not comment on “rumours and speculations.”

A PML-N spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.

Dar himself told reporters before the parliament’s inaugural session on Thursday that there was no decision yet when asked if he would be the choice for finance minister again.

PML-N senior leader Irfan Siddiqui told the local newspaper The News that Dar will “most probably” be picked for the post.

Also, read this

Why has the IMF been so strict on Pakistan this time?

What Feb 8 elections mean for Pakistan, according to Atif Mian

Pakistan to seek $6b in new IMF loan programme: report

Aside from negotiating a new and extended IMF programme, the new finance minister will have about three months to prepare a federal budget that will need to strike a difficult balance between tough reforms and rejuvenating a struggling economy.

The PML-N, leading a minority government, will be relying on the support of different parties to pass critical legislation, with alliance partner Pakistan Peoples Party saying it would support the government on an issue-to-issue basis.

Efforts to assuage growing public anger at record inflation hovering around 30% will also be challenging with limited fiscal space.

“Pakistan needs someone who has broad and in-depth international experience to introduce the kind of reforms that have helped many other countries to come out of economic crises,” said Yousuf Nazar, a London-based economist and former Citigroup banker. He however declined to say who was best suited.

Earlier this week, the Business Recorder while citing sources reported that the new finance czar would be from the PML-N as the ruling alliance was not ready to accept any technocrat. But Dar was not among the candidates for the coveted slot.

Auranzgeb’s name is interesting because it is the second name coming from the HBL as earlier bank’s chairman Sultan Ali Allana’s name was making rounds in the media.

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Ali Amin Gandapur elected Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chief minister

He secured 90 votes in the House of 106 members
Newly-elected chief minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Ali Amin Gandapur speaking during a session of the House on March 1, 2024 - Screengrab via YouTube/Aaj News
Newly-elected chief minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Ali Amin Gandapur speaking during a session of the House on March 1, 2024 - Screengrab via YouTube/Aaj News

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Ali Amin Gandapur was elected the chief minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on Friday.

He secured 90 votes in the House of 106, while PML-N’s Ibadullah Khan ended up with 16 votes.

Addressing the KP Assembly, Gandapur said the police must quash all the FIRs that were not backed by evidence, regardless of who was nominated in them.

If such FIRs were not quashed within a week, the officer who registered the FIR should prepare themselves for punishment, he warned.

Gandapur also demanded a judicial inquiry in the May 9 riots and said it should be noted who was the beneficiary.

The newly-elected chief minister contested the election as an independent after the Supreme Court stripped the PTI of its electoral symbol.

While most of the PTI-backed lawmakers joined the Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC), Gandapur was among the few top leadership who decided against joining the SIC.

Sources said that the decision was taken in the light of the PTI’s intra-party election, in which Gandapur submitted nomination papers for the party’s provincial president.

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US legislators call on Biden not to recognise new govt in Pakistan

At least 31 congress members sign letter asking for investigation into elections

At least 31 members of the United States Congress have called on the Joe Biden administration from witholding recognition of Pakistan’s new government until elections are investigated.

The letter has been addressed to President Biden and Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and calls for a ‘thorough, transparent, and credible investigation of election interference’ before the new government is recognised.

“We write to express our concerns about pre- and post-poll rigging in Pakistan’s recent parliamentary elections,” the letter says.

The lawmakers have also asked the US government to urge Pakistani authorities to release political prisoners and gather information about their cases.

The thrid and final demand says that the US should ‘make clear to Pakistani authorities that U.S. law provides for accountability for acts that violate human rights, undermine democracy, or further corruption, including the potential for military and other cooperation to be halted’.

The letter also notes that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf founder Imran Khan was sentenced to prison in two separate cases just days before the country went to the polls.

“Concerns arose after delays in reporting final results and early returns showed PTI-backed candidates on a path to victory. Over the coming days and weeks, previously reported vote totals allegedly changed dramatically,” the letter reads.

The letter added that the claims of election rigging have been lent credibility by findings by credible organisations including FAFEN. It also expounded on the discrepancies between Forms-45 and 47.

“Given the strong evidence of pre- and post-poll rigging, we urge you to wait until a thorough, transparent, and credible investigation has been conducted before recognizing a new Pakistani government,” the letter said, adding that recognising the government without such an inquiry would enable anti-democratic behaviour.

“It is in the U.S. interest to ensure that democracy thrives in Pakistan and that election results reflect the interests of the Pakistani people, not the interests of the Pakistani elite and military,” it said.

The letter is led by Representatives Greg Casar and Susan Wild, and signed by representatives Donald Beyer, Jamaal Bowman, Cori Bush, André Carson, Judy Chu , Yvette Clarke, Madeleine Dean, Lloyd Doggett, Veronica Escobar, Jesús “Chuy” García, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Steven Horsford, Pramila Jayapal, Hank Johnson, Ro Khanna, Raja Krishnamoorthi, Greg Landsman, Barbara Lee, Summer Lee, Jim McGovern, Ilhan Omar, Frank Pallone, Jamie Raskin, Jan Schakowsky, Rashida Tlaib, David Trone, Marc Veasey, Nydia Velázquez, and Bonnie Watson Coleman.

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Ayaz Sadiq becomes NA speaker, PPP’s Ghulam Mustafa sworn in as deputy speaker

Sadiq walked over to Dogar right after the election
National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq administers oath of office to newly elected NA Deputy Speaker Ghulam Mustafa Shah on March 01, 2024. Screengrab via YouTube/PTV Parliament
National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq administers oath of office to newly elected NA Deputy Speaker Ghulam Mustafa Shah on March 01, 2024. Screengrab via YouTube/PTV Parliament

PML-N’s Ayaz Sadiq was elected as the speaker of the National Assembly for the third time while PPP’s Ghulam Mustafa Shah was elected as his deputy amid a noisy session on Friday.

In his speech, Shah thanked his party leadership and coalition partners for putting trust in him.

Shah was elected as the deputy speaker of the National Assembly with 197 votes while his opponent Junaid Akbar, from the SIC, secured 92 votes.

After the election, Speaker Ayaz Sadiq administered the oath to Shah.

Sadiq was elected after defeating the SIC’s Aamir Dogar. A total of 291 votes were polled, out of which 290 were valid. Sadiq received 199 votes while Dogar received 91 votes.

Sadiq walked over to Dogar to shake his hand right after the announcement of the results.

In his speech, PTI’s Dogar said that his party was ready for reconciliation if its “stolen” mandate was returned.

He urged the newly elected speaker to play a role in returning the PTI its mandate. “You played a role in 2013. We are ready to cooperate but first give our stolen mandate back to us and also our reserved seats,” Dogar said.

He claimed that he would have received 225 votes, if Form 45 was used to compile results in general elections on Feb 8.

After being sworn in as the NA speaker, Sadiq called upon both sides of the aisle to work together for the betterment of the country.

He appreciated Dogar for playing his part in the democratic process. “Amir Dogar sahib, you have always given me respect and called me ‘Ayaz bhai’. God-willingly, I will prove to be an elder brother.”

Sadiq referred to some of the PTI backed MNAs as “friendly brothers with whom I have a relation other than politics”.

He added that the government and the opposition were like “two wheels of a car”.

Nomination papers for both slots were filed on Thursday after 302 members of the house took oath as MNAs.

Newly-elected members of the National Assembly were sworn in as lawmakers on Thursday amid uproar from the Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) who raised slogans.

At least 23 reserved seats in the National Assembly have not been allotted to any political party.

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Reserved seats: SIC chief’s letter to ECP serves deathblow to PTI

During the hearing, ECP shares the letter with Barrister Ali Zafar

In a major blow to the PTI, the Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) chief has apparently given up the reserved seats in the National Assembly without the knowledge of his ally, Imran Khan and the PTI.

A letter purportedly written by the SIC chief to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) was shared on Wednesday with the PTI lawyer, Ali Zafar, by the chief election commissioner during a key hearing at the ECP to decide the fate of 23 reserved seats that the ECP has not yet allotted to any political party in the National Assembly.

The PTI entered into an alliance with the SIC earlier this month and made its lawmakers — capitalizing on the PTI’s popularity — join the SIC so that the party could get a major share in the 70 seats reserved for women and minorities in the National Assembly.

The ECP estimated that at least 23 seats would go to SIC but linked the final decision to the election commissioners. The remaining 47 seats have already been allotted to other political parties, PMLN, PPP, MQMP, JUIF, and PMLQ.

However, PMLN and PPP have claimed that SIC was not qualified to partake of the reserved seats because it did not participate in the general election as a political party. Even SIC Chief Hamid Raza won as an independent candidate.

The dispute is to be resolved by the Election Commission of Pakistan which heard the issue on Tuesday and Wednesday.

A five-member bench headed by Chief Election Commi­ssioner Sikandar Sultan Raja conducted a hearing on the pleas.

PTI’s Barrister Ali Zafar, representing SIC, has been explaining to the ECP members why the party should be given a share in the reserved seats.

But to his surprise, Ali Zafar was told by the CEC that SIC Chief Raza had already written a letter to the ECP saying that his party did not want any of the reserved seats.

CEC Raja showed a letter sent by SIC Chief Sahibzada Hamid Raza to Zafar.

He told Barrister Ali Zafar that Raza had written the letter to the ECP on January 26 in which he said that the party had neither contested the general election nor it wanted the reserved seats.

Barrister Zafar said that he was unaware of such a letter and that the SIC chief had not mentioned writing such a letter to the electoral body.

With the explosive relations made by the CEC, Zafar ended his arguments that ran for hours.

Earlier, he said the ECP delayed the hearing on the SIC plea for reserved seats and by doing so allowed PMLN and other political parties to file petitions for the same reserved seats.

Zafar also contented that since other political parties had been made respondents in the case, he needed more time to prepare his arguments. The CEC asked if Zafar wanted the ECP to postpone the hearing.

Zafar said it was an extraordinary situation and he had to counter three arguments: SIC did not contest the election as a political party, it did not submit a list of candidates on reserved seats, and independently elected candidates did not join it within the three days of election.

He also said that the PTI was still listed with the ECP as a political party.

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Kamran Tessori blames PDM govt for vote bank reduction in alleged audio leak

Says other parties got mandate similar to MQM-P

A day after the audio leak of MQM-P Senior Deputy Convener Mustafa Kamal, alleged audio of Governor Sindh Kamran Tessori was leaked on Wednesday.

Tessori, in the alleged audio leak likely of a party meeting, can be heard blaming the Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) for the decline in the vote bank of the MQM-P.

“We were sitting with the PTI in the government. You [PPP, PML-N] were in opposition and were going to jail. We supported PDM due to which our voter was unhappy with us,” Tessori can be heard in the alleged audio clip.

The Sindh Governor said that his party secured seven seats in the 2018 election, which according to him was the MQM-P’s mandate.

He went on to add that the other parties were calling their mandate fake after the MQM-P secured 17 seats in the National Assembly.

“If we have secured such mandate then other parties have also got a similar mandate,” Tessori said.

Further, he said that the MQM-P was taking a risk by sitting in a government that was set to face the wrath of the people.

A day earlier, MQM-P’s Mustafa Kamal confirmed the authenticity of the audio leak associated with him. However, he insisted that there was nothing new about his party’s rivals claiming that their mandate was fake.

“An audio attributed to me has gone viral on social media. I endorse it,” Kamal, who served as Karachi’s mayor and was elected as an MNA in the general elections, said in a short video statement.

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ECP adjourns SIC’s plea for reserved seats

Country’s top electoral authority has stopped issuing notifications for 23 reserved seats
PTI lawyer Gohar Khan, along with SIC head Sahibzada Hamid Raza, speaks to reporters outside the ECP Offfice in Islamabad on February 27, 2024. Screengrab via Aaj News
PTI lawyer Gohar Khan, along with SIC head Sahibzada Hamid Raza, speaks to reporters outside the ECP Offfice in Islamabad on February 27, 2024. Screengrab via Aaj News
Barrister Gohar outside the ECP in Islamabad. Screengrab
Barrister Gohar outside the ECP in Islamabad. Screengrab

A five-member Election Commission of Pakistan adjourned on Tuesday the Sunni Ittehad Council’s (SIC) plea seeking allocation of the reserved seats in the national and provincial assemblies till Wednesday.

The country’s top electoral authority has stopped issuance of notification for 23 reserved seats which apparently has become a bone of contention between the government and President Arif Alvi.

Alvi, who belongs to the PTI, rejected the summary for summoning the National Assembly session, citing the august house as “incomplete” because of the pending notification.

The ECP bench conducted an open hearing on the application. It had sent a notice to the SIC, which has now a large number of independent candidates backed by the PTI after the elections.

The decision was taken at a meeting of the commission held on Monday. The petition was filed by convener MQM-P, against the proposed allocation of seats to the SIC.

Last week, Moulvi Iqbal Haider also filed a petition, seeking to ‘restrain the SIC being treated as a parliamentary party’. This petition along with other related petitions is also being taken up for hearing today.

A while ago, SIC head Sahibzada Hamid Raza arrived at the ECP Office in Islamabad. Barrister Gohar Khan and Babar Awan from the PTI and Farooq H Naek and Jahangir have also arrived at the office. PML-N’s Capt (retd) Safdar, Attaullah Tarar, and Azam Nazeer Tarar are also at the commission.

Hearing

At the outset of the hearing, SIC lawyer Ali Zafar informed the bench that they were in the commission for seeking their reserved seats and added that other political parties should explicitly speak if they want them.

He stated that the PPP, MQM-P, and N-league should appear before the court to make claims on reserved seats.

A member of the commission said that MQM-P Convener Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui has appeared before the bench and demanded that such seats should not be given to the SIC.

Lawyer Farooq H Naek said that they appeared before the bench.

Zafar said that they were unaware of the abovementioned political parties’ demand, adding that the SIC deserved the reserved seats according to the Constitution.

Chief Election Commissioner Sikander Sultan Raja said that the bench would hear every party in the case.

Zafar reiterated that as per the law and Constitution, the SIC should get reserved seats.

PML-N’s Azam Nazeer Tarar contended that the SIC did not manage to win a single National Assembly seat and the people “rejected” the religio-political party in the election.

Later the bench adjourned the hearing for a day.

Demand for reserved seats

The ECP has announced its decision on the allotment of reserved seats in the National Assembly, except those for the SIC. But the commission has not allotted the 23 reserved seats, expected to be given to the SIC, to any other political party.

According to the party position, the six-party ruling alliance does not have a two-thirds majority to bring any constitutional amendment. But if the ECP allotted the reserved seats due for the SIC to other political parties then the ruling alliance will have the desired number in the National Assembly.

The SIC approached the ECP on February 21 seeking the allotment of reserved seats.

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President Alvi delays signing summary to summon NA session

Sources say the president reasoned the delay with incomplete house
President of Pakistan Dr Arif Alvi
President of Pakistan Dr Arif Alvi

President Dr Arif Alvi has not yet signed the summary to convene a National Assembly session, citing an incomplete house.

Sources said that President Alvi has not responded to the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs’ summary, however, he verbally maintained that the lower house was incomplete without the allocation of reserved seats.

They went on to add that the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs had sent the summary to the president to convene the session on February 26 and February 27.

Meanwhile, experts said that the NA session will be convened on February 29, 21 days after the election, despite the president not signing the summary as per Article 91 (2) of the Constitution.

Reacting to the delay, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Ishaq Dar said that the NA speaker could summon the session on February 29 if the president failed to do so.

The February 8 election resulted in a split mandate as no party had the numbers to form a government without support from other parties.

The general polls saw PTI-backed independents securing most seats in the NA while PML-N emerged as the biggest party in the results.

Soon after the election, PTI founder Imran Khan refused to ally with the PPP or PML-N.

However, the PPP has announced to vote for PML-N in the prime minister’s election while refusing to become party of the Federal Cabinet.

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MQM-P nominates Ali Khurshidi as candidate for Sindh chief minister

Election for CM will be held on Monday
Photo via LinkedIn/Ali Khurshidi
Photo via LinkedIn/Ali Khurshidi

The Muttahida Qaumi Movement nominated Ali Khurshidi as the party’s candidate for the Sindh chief minister on Sunday.

A MQM-P’s spokesperson said it in a statement. Khurshidi, who won the election from PS 119, would be up against the Pakistan Peoples Party candidate for CM Murad Ali Shah.

When PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari announced the party candidate’s name, he said that Shah would be the provincial CM for the third time.

The election for the office of chief minister will be held on February 26 at 2pm, newly elected Sindh Assembly Speaker Owais Qadir Shah said on Sunday.

Nomination papers can be obtained between 2pm and 3pm today. Scrutiny of the papers under Rule 19 will take place at 6pm.

“A candidate may withdraw his candidature at any time before the commencement of the election by submitting an application in writing under his hand to the speaker […],” the speaker added.

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Favourites named in PTI list of reserved seats for women in KP: sources

Women leaders to protest outside speaker house
Photo via PTI/File
Photo via PTI/File

Favourites have been added to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s list of reserved seats for women by showing them as long-time workers, sources within the party said on Monday.

They claimed that the party has finalised the list and former members of provincial assemblies have been preferred.

The decision comes three days before the newly elected representatives in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa would take oath as MPAs on February 28.

The PTI backed independent candidates emerged victorious by securing 91 seats out of the total 112 seats where the election was held on February 8.

Sources stated that lawyer Mashaal Yousafzai and her two friends were added to the list and the party was planning to also include Fozia Bibi from Chitral.

Moreover, family members of two party workers who died in party activities were also named it.

They added that no women from the Peshawar district were named on the list as the disgruntled women supporters decided to protest outside the house of the speaker.

Senator Falak Naz’s friend Zahida Zahoor was also added to the list, they said and added that two names were added on the insistence of the party’s candidate for the KP chief minister Ali Amin Gandapur.

Party’s founding chairman Imran Khan would give final approval to the list.

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PTI replaces Mian Aslam Iqbal by Rana Aftab Khan as Punjab CM candidate

He will be up against Maryam Nawaz on Monday
A combination of file photos show Rana Aftab Ahmad Khan and Maryam Nawaz. PTI/PML-N
A combination of file photos show Rana Aftab Ahmad Khan and Maryam Nawaz. PTI/PML-N

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf has replaced Mian Aslam Iqbal with Rana Aftab Ahmad Khan as the candidate for the chief minister of Punjab, a party leader has said.

“As the police of the whole Punjab are present at the Punjab Assembly to arrest our CM candidate Aslam Iqbal, the party leadership in consultation with Mr Iqbal has decided to nominate Rana Aftab Ahmad Khan for the CM slot,” Hammad Azhar said in a post on X.

“Rana Aftab is the senior most member of the PA who in the past got elected PA member five times.”

The decision comes as Iqbal has been nominated in several cases related to the May 9 riots.

The election for the CM office between Maryam Nawaz and Aftab Khan would be conducted on Monday at 11am, according to the schedule issued on Sunday.

It added that the candidates can submit the nomination papers by Sunday 5pm.

It merits here to mention that independent candidates backed by the PTI joined the Sunni Ittehad Council earlier this week to secure the reserved seats.

Although the decision was announced by Azhar, Khan would be the SIC’s candidate in the assembly.

If elected, Maryam Nawaz would be the first woman chief minister of the province. She took oath as a member of the provincial assembly on Feb 23.

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ECP allocates women’s reserved seats to political parties

PML-N, JUI allotted one seat each
AFP/File
AFP/File

The Election Commission of Pakistan has issued a notification distributing special women’s seats in the National Assembly from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa among different political parties, Radio Pakistan reported.

According to notification, the PML-N and the JUI allocated one seat each

The N-league emerged as the single largest party in the general elections, but none of the parties got majority votes to form a government.

The South Asian country is expected to have a government similar to the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) which ruled the country for 16 months after the ouster of former prime minister Imran Khan via the vote of no-confidence in April 2021.

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Sindh Assembly: PPP’s Owais Qadir Shah speaker, Anthony Naveed becomes deputy speaker

Newly elected representatives from SIC, JI take oath as MPAs
Newly elected Sindh Assembly speaker Syed Owais Qadir Shah shakes hands with his predecessor Agha Siraj Durrani   on February 25, 2024. Screengrab via Aaj News
Newly elected Sindh Assembly speaker Syed Owais Qadir Shah shakes hands with his predecessor Agha Siraj Durrani on February 25, 2024. Screengrab via Aaj News
PPP MPA Syed Owais Qadir Shah takes oath as Sindh Assembly speaker on February 25, 2024. Screengrab via Aaj News
PPP MPA Syed Owais Qadir Shah takes oath as Sindh Assembly speaker on February 25, 2024. Screengrab via Aaj News
Lawmakers participate in the Sindh Assembly session on February 25, 2024. Screengrab via Aaj News
Lawmakers participate in the Sindh Assembly session on February 25, 2024. Screengrab via Aaj News
Lawmakers participate in the Sindh Assembly session on February 25, 2024. Screengrab via Aaj News
Lawmakers participate in the Sindh Assembly session on February 25, 2024. Screengrab via Aaj News

Pakistan Peoples Party’s Syed Owais Qadir Shah was sworn in as the Sindh Assembly speaker on Sunday after he won the election with 111 votes against MQM-P’s Sofia Shah who got 36 votes. PPP’s Anthony Naveed was elected as the deputy speaker as well.

In his speech, he thanked PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, former president Asif Ali Zardari, and Faryal Talpur for allowing him to serve in this capacity.

As many as 147 votes were cast for the election. The election was held through secret balloting. The session proceedings resumed today more than 30 minutes after the scheduled time. The PPP has fielded Anthony Naveed as a candidate for deputy speaker while the MQM-P has fielded Advocate Rashid Khan.

Qadir, who hails from Sukkur, stated that he was the first person from his city to become the assembly speaker. “It is a proud moment for my area.”

He cited that he was proud to become the speaker of the House that approved the Pakistan resolution and where the first governor general of Pakistan Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah sat. It was the same place where former prime minister Liaquat Ali Khan waved Pakistan flag.

 Pakistan Peoples Party’s Syed Owais Qadir Shah delivers his speech after becoming the Sindh Assembly Speaker on February 25, 2024. Screengrab via Aaj News
Pakistan Peoples Party’s Syed Owais Qadir Shah delivers his speech after becoming the Sindh Assembly Speaker on February 25, 2024. Screengrab via Aaj News

“After sitting on this chair, I assure you that I will run the assembly impartially and in an unbiased manner,” he said and urged lawmakers to move forward and serve people who have brought them to the House through votes.

“You will get full time to speak, but I just request to follow the rule book and we can have achievement if we follow this book,” he said, “I am grateful as all my seniors are sitting here. I learned from Sindh CM Murad Ali Shah and learned from Agha Siraj Durrani.”

He hoped that he would learn new things in Parliament and stated that problems would be resolved after discussion in the assembly.

Qadir expressed hope that the House would have achievements as it had in the past.

Anthony Naveed becomes deputy speaker

After the speaker’s election, PPP’s Anthony Naveed was elected the deputy speaker of the house. Naveed received 111 votes while MQM’s Rashid Khan received 36 votes.

 Syed Owais Qadir Shah congratulates Anthony Naveed. Screengrab via Aaj News
Syed Owais Qadir Shah congratulates Anthony Naveed. Screengrab via Aaj News

Naveed is the first minority deputy speaker in Pakistan’s history.

He served as a member of the house on a reserved seat from 2018 to 2023 as well.

PTI backed MPAs refuse to participate in polling process

PTI backed MPAs chanted slogans against alleged poll rigging and refused to participate in the polling process for the Sindh Assembly speaker.

They also shouted turncoats when Ijaz Swati was called to cast his vote. Swati, who contested and won elections as a PTI-backed independent, switched sides and joined the PPP.

Lawmakers prayed for the soldiers martyred while fighting against terrorists after PPP’s candidate for the chief minister Murad Ali Shah requested the speaker.

The nomination papers for the slots were declared valid by the outgoing speaker Agha Siraj Durrani during the assembly’s maiden session on Saturday when newly elected representatives took oath as members of the provincial assembly.

 Screengrab via Aaj News
Screengrab via Aaj News

MPAs elect from SIC, JI take oath

At least nine newly elected representatives from the Sunni Ittehad Council and one from the Jamaat-e-Islami, Muhammad Farooq, took oath as MPAs.

Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani administered the oath of office to them while three members of the Grand Democratic Alliance were absent.

PPP’s Shah said that welcomed those who took oath on Sunday and added that all the lawmakers would play a better role in the development of the province.

He spoke about a fresh increase in terrorist incidents in Karachi, citing that fighting terrorism would be a challenge for the new government.

 Lawmakers participate in the Sindh Assembly session on February 25, 2024. Screengrab via Aaj News
Lawmakers participate in the Sindh Assembly session on February 25, 2024. Screengrab via Aaj News

Police have blocked the roads surrounding the assembly by placing containers while the road from Fawara Chowk to the Press Club has also been closed.

As many as 148 newly elected representatives including the chief minister-in-waiting Murad Ali Shah took oath as MPAs in the maiden session. Around 60 MPAs were sworn in as lawmakers for the first time.

Outgoing speaker Agha Siraj Durrani, who administered the oath of office to the newly elected representatives, also took oath as a lawmaker and thanked his party for bestowing him with the opportunity.

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Opposition parties end hours-long election rigging protest in Karachi

Karachi police baton charge JUI-F protesters at Shahrah-e-Faisal

Take alternate routes amid protests, roadblock in Karachi

Around 13 members of the opposition did not participate in the ceremony as they protested against the alleged rigging in the election.

Police had blocked roads after opposition parties announced protests against alleged rigging in elections, creating problems for the people.

The hours-long protest ended in the evening. The JUI-F cleared the Shahrah-e-Faisal as traffic flow returned to normal.

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Bilawal vows action against those involved in election day violence

Says PPP workers were killed during election campaign
PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari speaking to media in Karachi on February 24 - Screengrab via YouTube/Aaj News
PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari speaking to media in Karachi on February 24 - Screengrab via YouTube/Aaj News

Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Saturday vowed to take action against those involved in violence during the election.

“Our workers were beaten up on election day. We will apprehend those involved in attacking our workers,” he told media after visiting the home of a party supporter who was killed in a firing incident on February 8.

Zardari criticised the Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) for their filing a first information report against the family of the worker who was killed in the firing.

The former foreign minister directed the upcoming chief minister of Sindh to take swift action against those who were involved in violence against workers of political parties during the election campaign.

“We will form a joint investigation team to investigate all such incidents. We will apprehend those involved in such activities and bring them to justice,” he added.

Without naming anyone, he said that political parties who wish to bring political violence to Karachi, will not be allowed by the PPP’s provincial government to do such things.

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PML-N’s Malik Ahmed elected as Punjab Assembly speaker

He defeated SIC's Ahmed Khan
Sibtain Khan administers oath to PML-N’s Malik Ahmed Khan as new Punjab Assembly speaker - Aaj News

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Malik Ahmed Khan was elected as speaker of the Punjab Assembly on Saturday.

The election for the speaker and the deputy speaker of the Punjab Assembly was conducted through secret balloting in its session.

As many as 327 MPAs cast their votes, out of which PML-N’s Khan secured 224 votes to become the speaker of the Assembly.

The election was held between Khan and Sunni Ittehad Council’s (SIC) Ahmed Khan who managed to secure 96 votes.

PML-N’s Zaheer Iqbal was elected deputy speaker of the house defeating SIC’s Moin Riaz for the position.

Iqbal secured 220 votes while Riaz ended up with 103 votes.

Earlier, another four MPAs took oath before the election for the speaker and deputy speaker, taking the total tally to 317 members of the house.

A day earlier, at least 313 MPAs — 215 belonging to the PML-N and allied parties and 98 PTI-backed independents — under the banner of the SIC — took the oath administered by the outgoing Punjab Assembly Speaker Sibtain Khan where chief minister-in-waiting Maryam Nawaz made her parliamentary debut.

The proceedings of the new assembly’s maiden session began over two hours behind schedule as the speaker was late to arrive.

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Number of National Assembly seats won by political parties

PML-N has secured maximum number of NA seats
AFP/File
AFP/File

The PML-N has emerged as the single largest political party in the race for the National Assembly seats as the country is all set to see a Pakistan Democratic Movement redux led by a multi-party confab.

According to the Election Commission of Pakistan results, the PML-N was declared victorious on 75 general seats. The tally rose to 108 after nine independent candidates joined the party and it got 24 reserved seats – four for minorities and 20 for women – days after the February 8 general elections.

Moreover, the Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarians won 54 NA seats. It merits here to mention that independent candidates have not joined the PPPP.

But the number of seats with the party increased to 68 after the allotment of 14 reserved seats, two for minorities and 12 for women.

Party position

Party name General seats Reserved Seats Total
PML-N 84 24 108
PPPP 54 14 68
MQM-P 17 5 22
JUI 6 2 8
SIC 81 Pending 81
PML-Q 4 1 5
IPP 3 1 4

The MQM-P won a total of 22 NA seats – including 17 general and five reserved seats. The Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam secured eight seats – including six general and two reserved seats.

As many as 81 PTI backed independent candidates joined the Sunni Ittehad Council after the two parties signed an agreement to secure the reserved seats. But the matter related to the allocation of such seats was still pending before the ECP.

The data shows that the country’s top electoral authority allotted 20 reserved seats for women – out of the total 32 – in Punjab. The decision on the remaining 12 is still pending.

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Opposition parties end hours-long election rigging protest in Karachi

At least 60 out of the total 148 took oath as MPAs
There was a queue of traffic waiting to turn to the alternate route at Shahrah-e-Faisal in Karachi on February 24, 2024. Screengrab via Aaj News
There was a queue of traffic waiting to turn to the alternate route at Shahrah-e-Faisal in Karachi on February 24, 2024. Screengrab via Aaj News
Police detain protesters outside the Sindh Assembly in Karachi before the session on February 24, 2024. Screengrab via Aaj News
Police detain protesters outside the Sindh Assembly in Karachi before the session on February 24, 2024. Screengrab via Aaj News
MPAs-elect in the Sindh Assembly session on February 24, 2024. Screengrab via Aaj News
MPAs-elect in the Sindh Assembly session on February 24, 2024. Screengrab via Aaj News
Sindh Assembly Speaker during the session proceedings on February 24, 2024. Screengrab via Aaj News
Sindh Assembly Speaker during the session proceedings on February 24, 2024. Screengrab via Aaj News
Policemen on duty outside the Sind Assembly as four political parties are scheduled to protest against alleged riggin in elections on February 24, 2024. Screengrab via Aaj News
Policemen on duty outside the Sind Assembly as four political parties are scheduled to protest against alleged riggin in elections on February 24, 2024. Screengrab via Aaj News
Police vehicles outside the Sindh Assembly on February 24, 2024. Screengrab via Aaj News
Police vehicles outside the Sindh Assembly on February 24, 2024. Screengrab via Aaj News
Members of Grand Democratic Alliance, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, Jamaat-e-Islami and Jamiat-e-Ulema Islam address a press conference in Karachi on February 23, 2024. Screengrab
Members of Grand Democratic Alliance, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, Jamaat-e-Islami and Jamiat-e-Ulema Islam address a press conference in Karachi on February 23, 2024. Screengrab

Protesters began dispersing as the opposition parties ended hours-long protest against the alleged election rigging in Karachi on Saturday.

Jamiat Ulama-e-Islam Fazl (JUI-F) cleared the Shahrah-e-Faisal as traffic flow returned to normal.

Earlier, police blocked some of the main arteries of Karachi before the Sindh Assembly session as opposition parties protested against the alleged rigging in elections.

Due to the blockade, heavy traffic was seen at the alternate routes while the track connecting Karachi and Hyderabad was also blocked by the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam in protest against alleged rigging in elections.

A video from by the Karachi police on X, formerly called Twitter, showed a queue of traffic on one side of Shahrah-e-Faisal that connects to the PIDC and the Sindh Assembly.

The provincial government has banned gatherings of more than five people under Section 144 of the CrPC. The decision was taken after opposition parties, which claim elections were not transparent, called for protests ahead of the session.

The proceedings of the maiden Sindh Assembly session in Karachi began more than 40 minutes behind schedule because lawmakers were late to arrive on Saturday amid JUI-F, GDA, PTI, and JI protests outside the chamber against alleged election rigging.

Police detained several protesters, including women, outside the assembly amid a ban on the gathering of more than five people in the city.

As many as four political parties announced on Friday that they will greet the assembly’s maiden session. The announcement was made in a joint press conference by representatives of the Grand Democratic Alliance, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, Jamaat-e-Islami and Jamiat-e-Ulema Islam.

 Screengrab via Aaj News
Screengrab via Aaj News

148 lawmakers take oath

As many as 148 newly elected representatives including the chief minister-in-waiting Murad Ali Shah took oath as MPAs in the maiden session. Around 60 MPAs were sworn in as lawmakers for the first time.

At the outset of the proceedings, PPP leader Agha Siraj Durrani administered the oath of office to the newly elected representatives. He also took oath as a lawmaker and thanked his party for bestowing him with the opportunity.

Around 13 members of the opposition did not participate in the ceremony as they protested against the alleged rigging in the election. The Election Commission of Pakistan has so far issued the notification for 163 lawmakers.

The session was adjourned till 11am Sunday.

Over 30 protesters detained

Prior to the session, police stopped supporters of the GDA and allied parties from gathering outside the Sindh Assembly.

More than 30 protesters, including women, were detained by police for entering into the Red Zone.

Party position

PPP secured the maximum number of provincial assembly seats, according to the results by the Election Commission of Pakistan. The Bhutto-led party has secured as many as 84 seats while the number of seats occupied by the MQM-P was 28.

The GDA has three and the JI two whereas the Election Commission of Pakistan has so far not issued the notification of nine independent candidates who joined the Sunni Ittehad Council after the elections.

 The table shows the party position in the Sindh Assembly before the allotment of reserved seats. Source: Election Commission of Pakistan
The table shows the party position in the Sindh Assembly before the allotment of reserved seats. Source: Election Commission of Pakistan

It merits here to mention that Murad Ali Shah would become the Sindh chief minister “for the third time.” PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari announced on Friday that Awais Shah was the party’s candidate for the provincial assembly speaker and minority candidate Anthony Naveed would be the provincial assembly deputy speaker.

Moreover, MQM-P has nominated Sofia Shah for the post of speaker and Rashid Khan for the post of deputy speaker.

Roads blocked

The Sindh administration blocked the roads leading to the assembly in view of the protest call by four political parties against alleged rigging in elections. A police contingent was deployed in the Red Zone.

Leaders of GDA stated on Friday that they would block the roads surrounding the assembly and block the session proceedings.

Police have blocked the road at the Nursery in the Shahrah-e-Faisal area that leads to the assembly, leading to traffic jams.

They have also deployed a contingent at the FTC which is diverting the traffic to the Korangi Road.

Meanwhile, workers of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl were protesting at Karachi’s Toll Plaza. JUI-F Sindh Secretary General Allama Rashid Mahmood Soomro is leading the protest, saying that the party workers want to stage a protest outside the provincial assembly.

The protest has disrupted traffic flow at the Karachi-Hyderabad Motorway.

‘Protest will continue until demands are met’

The protesting political parties have also announced that they will not take oath as members of the assembly. The protest will continue as long as the mandate of the people is not accepted, they added.

The protest has to be organised because the mandate of 60 million people “was stolen in Sindh”, GDA leader Safdar Abbasi said.

JI’s Hafiz Naeemur Rehman described the MQM-P as a “rejected” party and accused it of stealing the votes of PTI and JI.

Also, read this

PTI announces alliance with Sunni Ittehad Council

PPP turns down PMLN offer of ministries in Punjab

Zardari to be candidate for president, announces Bilawal

Ban on protests

In a statement, caretaker Sindh Interior Minister Brig (retd) Haris Nawaz said that a ban on public gatherings was imposed in Karachi under Section 144 of the CrPC.

He added that security measures have been taken inside and outside the assembly. Strict action will be taken against those who show any kind of mischief and illegality, Nawaz stated.

The minister called for ensuring cooperation with the people, police and other law enforcement agencies in establishing law and order.

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PTI’s Sher Afzal Marwat challenges general elections results in SC

Also challenges ECP committee formed on complaint of former Rawalpindi commissioner

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leader Sher Afzal Marwat challenged on Friday the results of general elections through a constitutional petition filed in the Supreme Court.

Marwat in his petition pleaded before the court to nullify the appointment of the chief election commissioner and other members.

The petitioner also pleaded to declare all Forms 47 of all national and provincial assemblies void along with the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) investigation committee probing Rawalpindi commissioner’s election rigging allegations.

Meanwhile, sources in the SC Registrar’s Office denied having received Marwat’s petition.

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PML-N nominee for Punjab CM Maryam Nawaz quits National Assembly seat

She is expected to take oath for Punjab chief minister position
PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz presides over a parliamentary meeting of her party at Jati Umra residence on Feb 21, 2024 Photo via X/pmln_org
PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz presides over a parliamentary meeting of her party at Jati Umra residence on Feb 21, 2024 Photo via X/pmln_org

PML-N’s nominated candidate for the Punjab chief minister position Maryam Nawaz abandoned on Friday her National Assembly seat which she won in the Feb 8 general elections. She was elected from the NA-119 constituency

She has tendered her resignation to the Election Commission of Pakistan.

According to the rules, an elected candidate cannot keep two assembly seats and Maryam cannot contest for the election of Punjab chief minister.

The Punjab Assembly session has been summoned for today where newly elected candidates would take oath as member provincial assembly.

On Wednesday, Maryam unveiled a development game plan for Punjab. While presiding over a parliamentary meeting of her party, she pledged a new era of development in Punjab and vowed to deliver on every front.

If elected, she would be the first woman chief minister.

She was of the view that five years were not enough to address the massive challenges being faced in the country.

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