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Pakistan: Nawaz Sharif returns to parliament after 7 years, takes oath as ordinary lawmaker | WATCH

After a disappointing performance in Pakistan's elections, Nawaz Sharif abandoned his claim to becoming the next PM to his younger brother Shehbaz Sharif. He returned to the Parliament after seven years, following his ouster and a four-year exile in London.

Aveek Banerjee Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Islamabad Published on: February 29, 2024 17:22 IST
Pakistan, National Assembly, Nawaz Sharif, oath taking
Image Source : PML-N (X) PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif taking oath in the maiden session of Pakistan's 16th National Assembly

Islamabad: Three-time former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Thursday took oath as an ordinary Member of the National Assembly as newly-elected members of the lower house of the Pakistani parliament met for the first time and took oaths amid a ruckus by supporters of incarcerated cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan. Outgoing National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf administered the oath to the MNAs.

According to a spokesperson for the NA, 302 members were sworn in out of a total strength of 336, as the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has not yet decided over the allocation of reserved seats to the Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC), Dawn reported. Nawaz and his younger brother Shehbaz, former President Asif Ali Zardari, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazal (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman were sworn in on Thursday.

Following a poor show in the electoral battle, Nawaz, 74, the supremo of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party abandoned his claim to the prime minister’s position to Shehbaz. His oath-taking marks his return to the Pakistani Parliament after seven years.

His terms as the prime minister include the first from 1990-1993, then 1997-1999, and the last from 2013-2017, none of them for a complete five years. A video uploaded by his party showed the elder Sharif entering the Parliament, then walking towards the many members of his party and shaking hands, with all the while a party song that said ‘Sher Aaya’ in the background. After the oath-taking, the lawmakers signed the register roll of the National Assembly to officially become members.

The PML-N won 75 seats while the PPP came third with 54 seats. The Muttahida Qaumi Movement Pakistan (MQM-P) has 17 seats. Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) won the majority of seats against all odds with 93, leading PML-N and PPP to form a coalition with four small parties to form the next government, with Shehbaz nominated as PM.

The nomination of Shehbaz Sharif as the next prime minister by Nawaz Sharif, who himself was eyeing the plum post for a record fourth time, had surprised many within and outside the party. However, the PML-N leaders and Nawaz Sharif's daughter Mariam Nawaz, have reiterated that Nawaz Sharif is not quitting politics and he would continue to guide the party.

Ruckus during oath-taking

Some PTI leaders, many of whom have joined the assembly under the banner of the SIC under the party’s bid to secure reserved seats, were also sworn in, including Gohar Khan, Ali Muhammad Khan, Omar Ayub Khan and Sher Afzal Marwat. The elections for the National Assembly Speaker and Deputy Speaker will be held on Friday.

However, PTI-backed MNAs chanted “Imran Khan zindabad” and “Aayi, aayi PTI". The Sunni Ittehad Council backed by Imran alleges that the February 8 national elections were rigged against them and has called for an audit of the polls. "Who will save Pakistan? Imran Khan, Imran Khan," SIC members chanted as legislators," SIC members chanted as Shehbaz signed the membership register.

PTI had already announced it would protest in today's session against the alleged rigging and held up posters with 'Release Imran Khan' written on them. SIC lawmakers started chanting "qaidi (prisoner) number 804" the number given to PTI founder Imran Khan in the Adiala jail, to which PML-N lawmakers responded by shouting "ghari chor" (watch thief), an apparent reference to the Toshakhana case against Imran, according to Geo News.

Omar Ayub, Imran's candidate to be prime minister, told journalists the party would seek the release of the former PM who has remained behind bars since August 2023 and faces over a decade in jail. “The oath we have taken today, it clearly states that we will follow the rules and the law […] but at this point, the house is incomplete,” he said in the parliament.

Elections for PM

On the second day of the National Assembly on Friday, the election for the speaker and his deputy will be held before noon, and the pair will be administered oath the same day. After this, the election for Pakistan's next Prime Minister will be held for which candidates are required to file their nomination papers on March 3.

The voting to select the next premier will take place on March 4. The PML-N-led coalition as nominated Shehbaz Sharif, while the PTI fielded Omar Ayub Khan as the prime ministerial candidate. PPP lawmaker Ghulam Mustafa Shah will vie for the deputy speaker slot as a joint candidate of the PML-N and the PPP. 

It is important to mention here that the National Assembly was summoned after President Arif Alvi's initial refusal due to differences with the caretaker government over the issue of former prime minister Imran Khan's party-backed candidates being allotted the reserved seats. However, Alvi assented to a summary seeking the summoning of the first meeting of the 16th National Assembly on Thursday.

(with inputs from agencies)

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