Punjab MPAs take oath in inaugural session of assembly Speaker Punjab Assembly Sibtain Khan said a level playing field has been provided to some lawmakers while not to others

Punjab MPAs take oath in inaugural session of assembly

Session marred by reports of PTI-backed independent candidate’s arrest

LAHORE   (  Web News )

Newly elected members of the Punjab Assembly took their oath on Friday in a session marred by reports of a PTI-backed lawmaker’s arrest as the session commenced after a significant delay.

Around 215 lawmakers of the PML-N and allied party lawmakers along with 98 Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) and PTI-backed lawmakers were administered by outgoing speaker Sibtain Khan.

Khan also issued the schedule for the election – to be held on Saturday – of the new speaker and deputy speaker of the Punjab Assembly.

The process for submitting nomination papers and scrutiny of the same will be conducted till 5:30 pm today, and the election will take place on February 24 through a secret ballot.

PML-N’s Malik Mohammad Ahmed and SIC’s Ahmed Khan Picher have submitted their nomination papers for the post of speaker. For the post of deputy speaker, PML-N’s Malik Zaheer Iqbal and Mohammad Moinuddin Riaz are contending for the deputy speaker slot.

After the oath was administered, the speaker asked the lawmakers in the assembly “not to spoil the atmosphere”.

“And I am saying this personally that may God also give you courage to listen to each other patiently,” said Khan and he congratulated the new MPAs on assuming their roles and wished them success.

Earlier, reports of Mian Aslam’s arrest, a PTI-backed independent lawmaker and the party’s nominee for the post of chief minister, from the assembly premises turned the atmosphere within the house tense, prompting the speaker to instruct the police to submit a report on Aslam’s status.

PML-N lawmakers present in the assembly urged for the speaker to administer the oath while those in opposition asked the speaker to adjourn the proceedings of the house as reserve seats have not yet been allotted to them.

The Punjab Assembly session was briefly adjourned by the speaker till after Friday prayers.

‘Level playing field for some, not others’

Speaker Punjab Assembly Sibtain Khan said a level playing field has been provided to some lawmakers while not to others, in reference to obstacles being faced by PTI-backed independent candidates.

“Now that I have come to the assembly, I shall see who stops the representatives of the people from coming to the premie,” said Khan on arrival at the assembly.

He added that he would seek information regarding those lawmakers who have been barred from entering the premises.

“Today in the assembly, there will be no other activity apart from administering oath to the nine designated lawmakers.”

The PML-N has nominated Maryam Nawaz as its candidate for the chief ministership. If elected, then Maryam would become the first-ever female chief minister in the country’s history.

Despite challenges to the election results by PTI-backed independents in several Punjab constituencies, the PML-N asserts it has garnered sufficient seats to establish the government. To achieve this in Punjab, the party needs backing from 186 MPAs.

In the February 8 elections, the PML-N secured 137 seats. On Friday, it was assigned 36 reserved seats for women and five for minorities, raising its total strength in the 397-seat house to 178. However, the party contends it enjoys support from over 190 MPAs.