Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf's (PTI) Asad Qaiser was sworn in as National Assembly (NA) speaker on Wednesday, beating out the candidate fielded by opposition alliance, PPP stalwart Khursheed Shah, in a secret ballot. The election for the post of deputy speaker is now ongoing.
Qaiser, the former Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly speaker, received 176 votes to Shah's 146 votes. Eight votes were rejected.
Following the announcement, Sadiq administered oath to Qaiser among loud chants of vote ko izzat do by opposition lawmakers.
Qaiser, after the announcement, made a round of the opposition benches and shook hands with opposition leaders seated in the front row of the assembly.
Outgoing Ayaz Sadiq announced the name of the speaker after newly elected MNAs voted for their preferred candidates.
The election was expected to commence at 10am; however, the session faced a delay of nearly one hour due to the late arrival of MNAs.
Prime minister-in-waiting Imran Khan left the assembly after his casting vote for the speaker and returned as counting of ballots commenced.
Ayaz Sadiq delivered a speech in the house thanking his party and opposition parties for their support throughout his tenure, particularly during the 2014 protests and the resignation of lawmakers.
He congratulated Qaiser and winning the contest for speaker, and Shah for putting up a fight. "Many times I listened to people call me 'fake speaker' and say 'we won't agree' to me, but I didn't frown once," he said.
He asked for lawmakers to respect each other despite their differences. "I would like all of us to work for Pakistan's betterment," he added.
"Each second of each minute that I gave to the opposition (as speaker) is recorded. My government complained that I lean too much towards the opposition," he said.
Recalling the mass resignation of lawmakers, Sadiq called for changes to rules regarding attendance of lawmakers in the assembly and the procedure surrounding it.
He also lauded the formation of the Elections Act 2017 that was worked on by all political parties, but also mentioned shortcomings in Section 95-5 pertaining to recounting of results at the time of consolidation of votes.
He also regretted that the Election Commission of Pakistan did not execute its responsibilities as required despite being given greater powers than before.
"The house will decide whether we need to hold it accountable or not."
"Everyone should be held accountable," he added. "Let us work for the betterment of Pakistan and the Parliament. We receive a lot of insults, no on appreciates our work. We have to make sure our work is appreciated," he said.
"All of us wish to work for Pakistan, but it is also our right to play a role as the opposition," he added.
He urged Qaiser to summon the previous assembly's record and examine how much time was given to the government and the opposition, and how "we tried to make it equal".
PPP's Khursheed Shah also made a speech promising that his party would never become a hurdle to the passage of legislation for the country's progress.
"And under Bilawal's leadership, we will fully play the role of the opposition. It is our constitutional and legal right," he added.
"And once more, we pray that the Parliament completes its five-year term in a democratic manner."
PTI's Shah Mahmood Qureshi in his speech praised PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari for his positive role and democratic behaviour. He also thanked Khursheed Shah for his democratic views and said that Shah showed political maturity in his maiden speech in the National Assembly. He said that the lawmakers would have to exhibit such democratic behaviour to maintain the sanctity of the house.
He also thanked the leadership of the Balochistan National Party (BNP), Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P), Balochistan Awami Party (BAP), PML-Q, Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA), and independents who supported the party in speaker's election.
He assured the opposition that the government would safeguard their democratic rights, and assured them that their criticism would be taken positively.
The PTI leader added that the country has been facing enormous challenges and that the government needed guidance from opposition lawmakers to cope with the challenges.
"All your positive points will be paid heed to; we have the courage to listen and we will try to act accordingly," he concluded.
MQM-P leader Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui lauded the democratic transition of government and said it should be the first step towards change for better democratic process in the future.
"The people of Pakistan have entrusted their dreams to us, it is our responsibility to ensure they become a reality," he said.
He said that the fruits of democracy would indeed be evident when the common man would be sitting in Parliament, and farmers would be represented by farmers, and labourers would be represented by labourers.