ISLAMABAD - PML-N nominees Sardar Ayaz Sadiq and Murtaza Javed Abbasi were elected speaker and deputy speaker of the National Assembly respectively on Monday.

Both the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) candidates bagged 258 votes each out of the total 312 votes polled in secret ballot by members of the newly elected assembly.

Though Ayaz and Murtaza won with thumping majority but the PML-N’s desire to see its candidates elected unopposed could not materialise as Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) had refused to withdraw their candidates. The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) however did withdraw at the last minute its candidates Nawab Yousuf Talpur and Ghulam Rasool Goraija in favour of PML-N candidates.

In the contest for speaker’s slot, PTI’s Shaharyar Afridi received 31 votes while MQM’s SA Iqbal Qadri bagged 23 votes. Their party women – MQM’s Kishwer Zehra and PTI’s Munazza Hassan – also pocketed the same number of votes for the position of deputy speaker.

“Sardar Ayaz Sadiq has secured more votes than the aggregate votes secured by the other candidates,” announced outgoing speaker Dr Fehmida Mirza, who latter administered the oath to the new speaker of the 14th National Assembly. The first-ever NA lady speaker then handed over the charge to Ayaz Sadiq and left the house in the thumping of desks and a standing ovation by all the members.

In his remarks‚ the new speaker said that he will make all out efforts to run the House with complete transparency and impartiality. He said he will treat all members equally and he appealed the members to cooperate with him. Ayaz said each member will have to play his role for the progress and stability of the country and upholding of supremacy of constitution. He said they all have to work for resolving the problems of the people.

Speaker Ayaz Sadiq later issued schedule for the election of leader of the house. The aspirants for the slot can file their nomination papers till 2pm today (Tuesday) while the voting would be held on Wednesday (June 5). Any of the contestants for the slot of leader of the house could withdraw his candidature at any time before the elections.

Unlike the elections for the speaker and deputy speaker which were held through secret ballot, the election for the leader of the house would be held through rule of division of the house. Keeping in view the party position, elections for the prime minister is also merely a formality since the PML-N has acquired more than a simple majority in the 342-member assembly with a number of independents also having joined it.

Before handing over the charge to Ayaz, Dr Fehmida expressed the confidence that the new speaker and the members will continue to work for strengthening of democracy and they will resolve the problems being faced by the people and the country. She said it was their obligation to protect the constitution. She said the previous House played vital role in bringing balance among the state institutions.

Fehmida paid rich tributes to the members of the previous assembly, especially the women members, for their valuable contribution in the promotion and strengthening of democratic norms and resolving major issues, and restoring the constitution to its original shape.

Also on Monday‚ 15 newly elected members, who could not take oath on Sunday, took oath of their office. They were PTI’s Vice Chairman Shah Mahmud Qureshi, Independent candidate Jamshed Dasti, PML-N’s Tehmina Daultana, Shugfta Jamani, Roshan Junejo, Zehra Batool Fatmi, Shahzeb Fatima, Shahid Rehmanni, Sabiha Nazir, Dr Asim Mahdoot, Amira Khan, Lal Chand, Mariam Auirangzeb and Mir Munawar Ali Talpur.

During the session, members from both the treasury and opposition benches pledged to struggle for upholding the constitution. Speaking on a point of order‚ Mahmood Khan Achakzai called upon all the political parties to pledge for upholding the supremacy of the constitution.

Achakzai regretted that the constitution was violated in the past‚ emphasising the practice should be avoided in the future. He said the political parties should promise that they will not allow in their ranks any such person as have been part of those forces who violated the constitution.

Khawaja Asif said it is the beginning of a new era and they all should make a solemn pledge that they will never allow anyone to sabotage the constitution. Amin Fahim said his party has always struggled for supremacy of constitution and it would confront with full force those who would try to undermine it.

Javed Hashmi stressed the need for chalking out a strategy to ensure constitutional supremacy. He said his party will support any initiative and effort for this purpose. He said it is the responsibility of the elected members to work for the resolution of problems faced by the masses. He said resolution of their problems lies in the adherence to the constitution.

Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said the new government will have to take practical steps for the protection of the democracy and resolution of the problems. He pointed out that the country is faced with many challenges and the elected representatives will have to deliver for the resolution of these problems. Farooq Sattar said that his party will play constructive role in the house for the promotion and strengthening of democracy and for the welfare of the people.