Pakistan to get first woman speakerMarch 18th, 2008 - 6:51 pm ICT by admin
By Muhammad Najeeb
Islamabad, March 18 (IANS) Pakistan is set to get a woman as speaker of the National Assembly for the first time in its history with the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Tuesday submitting the nomination papers of Fahmida Mirza for the post.
PPP has emerged as the single largest party with 87 seats in the Feb 18 polls. Its ally, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), has backed Mirza’s candidature. The two parties together got a majority, bagging 153 seats in a house of 272 and are set to form a coalition government.
The former ruling party PML-Quaid-e-Azam (PML-Q) - backed by President Parvez Musharraf - also fielded its candidates for speaker and deputy speaker.
For the deputy speaker, PPP has nominated Faisal Karim Kundi, a young parliamentarian from the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) who defeated Maulana Fazlur Rehman, head of the religious Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI) in the polls.
The PML-Q and Muttahida Qaumi Movement fielded Israr Tareen and Khushbakht Shujaat respectively for the posts of speaker and deputy speaker. The parliament secretariat said that all the four nomination papers have been accepted for scrutiny.
PPP candidate Mirza told media persons that she would not face any difficulty in running the house as she has been in the opposition for three years.
A secret ballot will be held Wednesday for both the posts after which outgoing speaker of the National Assembly Chaudhry Ameer Hussain will announce the name of the successful candidates.
The PPP-led coalition is poised to take power after more than eight years of military-led rule, with PML-Q taking the role of opposition. The PML-Q-led alliance has announced it will put up Farooq Sattar of the MQM for a token contest against whoever the PPP finally names as its prime ministerial candidate.
Meanwhile, the PML-N and other allied parties have said they will have no objection to the choice of PPP for prime minister. However, there are differences within the PPP over the candidate.
Many leaders in the PPP have asked assassinated party chief Benazir Bhutto’s husband Asif Ali Zardari to be prime minister. Zardari, however, is not a member of parliament and also lacks the basic qualification of being a graduate in order to contest the National Assembly polls.
On the other hand, PPP leader Amin Fahim has been saying that in the present circumstances following Bhutto’s murder in December last year, he is the best choice for the top executive position. But main coalition partner PML-N has expressed its reservations on Fahim’s candidature.
This bitter struggle within the PPP over who the next prime minister will be has overshadowed the inauguration of the new National Assembly as well as its potential confrontation with President Pervez Musharraf over the restoration of about 60 judges of superior courts he sacked under his controversial Nov 3, 2007, emergency, the problem of his sweeping powers under which he can sack a prime minister and dissolve the National Assembly, and the next government’s immediate problems of tackling militant violence and economic hardships.