Pakistan’s Prime Minister-in-waiting Imran Khan was among the 329 newly-elected members of the National Assembly who took the oath on Monday, setting the stage for the cricketer-turned-politician to form the next government, only the second democratic transition of power.
The maiden session of the 15th National Assembly, the lower house of Parliament, concluded after outgoing Speaker Ayaz Sadiq administered the oath to the leaders in the 342-member house.
The 329 members signed their presence in a register.
The National Assembly session was then adjourned till 10 AM, August 15, Geo News reported.
President Mamnoon Hussain had summoned the maiden session at 10 AM in parliament house today, 19 days after Khan-led Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party emerged as the single largest in the general elections.
Khan and other prominent leaders including Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) president Shahbaz Sharif, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and former president Asif Ali Zardari also took oath.
The PTI chief shook hands and posed for a photo with Bilawal, who is entering the National Assembly for his maiden term, Dawn reported.
The Speaker announced that elections of the new Speaker and his deputy will be held on August 15.
The PTI has nominated Asad Qaisar for Speaker, while opposition has named Syed Khurshid Shah of the PPP as the joint opposition candidate for the post.
Earlier, the maiden session started with the National Anthem, followed by recitation from the Holy Quran.
Khan looked prominent as he sat in the front row of the parliament house close to the chair of the leader of the house, which he is eventually expected to take after formal election as Prime Minister.
Strict security measures have been put in place to avoid any untoward incident during the proceedings and irrelevant persons have been barred from entering the house.
The PTI emerged as the single largest party with 116 seats in July 25 elections. Its number increased to 125 after nine independent members joined it and final tally reached 158 after it was allotted 28 out of 60 seats reserved for women and 10 seats reserved for minorities.
Party sources said that the list of the Cabinet has not been finalised but there is a general consensus that Shah Mahmood Qureshi will be the new Foreign Minister and Pervez Khattak the new Interior Minister. Asad Umar is expected to get the key post of Finance Minister.
Khan is expected to appoint prominent businessman Abdul Razzak Dawood as advisor on finance. Dawood served in the Cabinet of former military dictator Pervez Musharraf.
The election of the Prime Minister will be held after election of the new Speaker who will supervise the election of the premier.
The PTI has nominated Khan for the top post and he is scheduled to take oath on August 18 at the President House.
The combined opposition has nominated Shehbaz Sharif against Khan.
The new government faces a strong opposition as the PML-N has a final tally of 82 seats, followed by the PPP with 53 and Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) 15 seats. The three have joined hands and formed the combined opposition.
The PTI has the support of smaller parties including Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) with seven seats, Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) five, Balochistan National Party (BNP) four, Pakistan Muslim League (PML) three, Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) three, Awami Muslim League and Jamori Watan Party one seat each.
This will be the third consecutive democratic government in Pakistan since 2008 when military ruler Musharraf announced general elections after serving as president from 2001 to 2008 following a coup in 1999.
The PPP formed the government in 2008, followed by the PML-N led by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in 2013.
Pakistan’s powerful military has ruled the country through various coups for nearly half of the country’s history since independence in 1947. Even during the civilian rule, the generals have wielded enormous power, setting the agenda for the country’s foreign and security policies.