Pakistan: PTI’s Asad Qaiser is the new speaker for the National Assembly

Asad Qaiser sworn in as the new National Assembly speaker on Wednesday, 15th August, 2018.

KARACHI, Pakistan (AA) – Pakistan’s lower house, the National Assembly, on Wednesday elected Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) Asad Qaiser as its speaker.
Qaiser secured 176 out of 330 cast votes, defeating the joint opposition’s candidate Syed Khursheed Shah, who got 146 votes, according to results announced by the outgoing Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq.
Eight votes were rejected.
The newly-elected speaker was sworn in amid desk-beating and slogans from the treasury benches and opposition members. As soon as, Qaiser was declared elected as 21st speaker of the lower house, the PTI members beat their desks, and chanted slogans in favor of their leader and former cricket star Imran Khan.
Wearing black armbands as a mark of protest against alleged poll rigging, the opposition members, mainly from the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) of the jailed ex-premier Nawaz Sharif, repeatedly raised “Give honor to vote” and “Fake mandate unacceptable” slogans.
Footage aired on state-run Pakistan Television (PTV), several (PML-N) parliamentarians — some of them carrying portraits of the three-time prime minister — converged in front of the Speaker’s chair, and raised slogans in favor of Sharif, and against the alleged rigging in July 25 elections, forcing the newly-elected speaker to adjourn the session for 15 minutes to put the house in order.
The PTI chairman and the Prime Minister-in-waiting Imran Khan kept smiling while sitting on the seat allocated for the leader of the house.
The state TV, however, immediately cut live coverage of the parliamentary session.
Qaiser’s political career
Qasier, who had served as a speaker of the provincial assembly of northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), strode to opposition benches, and shook hand with the PML-N president, and presumed opposition leader Shehbaz Sharif and other opposition members soon after he was declared elected.
A graduate of Peshawar University, Qaiser started his political career as a student leader from the platform of Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba — the country’s largest student union in the late 1980s — and later joined Jamat-e-Islami (JI). He parted his ways with the JI and joined the PTI in 1996.
He was elected as a member of the National Assembly from Swabi district of KP in the July 25 elections, marred by allegations of rigging and manipulation.
Meanwhile, Agha Siraj Durrani of the center-left Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), and Mushtaq Ghani of the PTI have been elected as speakers of the provincial assemblies of southern Sindh and KP provinces, respectively.
The PTI is all set to form the government for next five years — with the help of several smaller parties — after it emerged as the single largest party in the last month’s elections by securing 158 seats in the 342-member lower house.
The PML-N trailed in second with 64 seats, whereas the PPP and the five-party religious alliance Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) could grab 53 and 15 seats, respectively.
The opposition parties have already formed an eleven-party alliance, which has rejected the election results and vowed to continue their protests across the country apart from demanding of the election commission officials to step down.
The election commission, however, rejected the opposition’s demand calling the elections “ free”, and “fair”.
Not only the opposition parties but several international media outlets, and observers like European Union Observers Mission, found “irregularities” in the pre- and post-election process, including failure to provide a “level playing field to all the participants.”

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