1369938 Shahbaz Sharif Tw.jpg

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Shehbaz Sharif, who is the prime ministerial candidate for the newly-formed eight-party alliance, is poised to take the PM’s seat for the second time, Pakistan-based Dawn reported. He will face Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-nominated Omar Ayub Khan in the contest scheduled to be held in the newly constituted National Assembly on Sunday.

The two leaders submitted their nomination papers to the National Assembly Secretariat, which Pakistan’s National Speaker Ayaz Sadiq declared valid after the scrutiny, conducted in the presence of the leaders from both sides. According to the National Assembly Secretariat, Shehbaz Sharif submitted eight nomination papers while Omar Ayub Khan submitted four nomination papers which included signatures of different proposers and seconders, according to Dawn’s report.

Omar Ayub Khan had objected to Shehbaz Sharif. He said Shehbaz Sharif was ‘gifted’ his NA seat through manipulation in Form-47. He said the PML-N President could not contest the Pakistan PM election as he had lost the constituency as per Form-45. In a post on X, he said “Shehbaz Sharif has been wrongly administered the oath as Member of Pakistan’s National Assembly and he cannot be a candidate for the prime minister’s post. However, the objection raised by Omar Ayub Khan has been rejected.”

After getting the offices of the speaker and the deputy speaker in nearly one-sided contests on Friday, the newly-formed alliance seems confident to take over the post of Pakistan PM. Meanwhile, the PTI lawmakers, who had been elected as independents and later joined the Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC), are expected to continue their protest in the house over the alleged rigging in the elections conducted on February 8.

Apart from PML-N, Sharif is supported by the PPP, MQM-P, PML-Q, BAP, PML-Z, IPP, and the NP which implies that he has the backing of 205 members. Two MNAs-elect from the MQM-P and PPP have yet to take the oath. To become the leader of the house, Sharif needs 169 votes in the 336-member house. Meanwhile, the PTI-backed opposition has 102 lawmakers. Out of those, one member has not taken the oath. Meanwhile, the JUI-F and BNP-Mengal are likely to boycott the elections.

At present, 304 lawmakers have taken oath while the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) ECP has so far withheld the notification of 23 reserved seats for women and minorities. On Friday, PML-N’s Sadiq won the Speaker’s election after securing 199 votes against his rival PTI leader Amir Dogar, who won 91 votes in the house.

The elections of the speaker and deputy speaker were held through a secret ballot amid protests by PTI lawmakers who declared it “unconstitutional.” The eight JUI-F members and BNP-M chief Akhtar Mengal, who had boycotted the elections for the speaker and the deputy speaker, have not made any announcement regarding their participation in the Pakistan Prime Minister’s election, Dawn reported.

However, Maulana travelled to Karachi on Saturday night, indicating he would not be in the assembly for the PM’s poll. The election will be conducted in the NA under Article 91 of the Constitution. Article 91(3) reads, “After the election of the speaker and the deputy speaker, the National Assembly shall to the exclusion of any other business, proceed to elect without debate one of its Muslim members to be the prime minister.”

Article 91(4) of the Constitution reads, “The prime minister shall be elected by the votes of the majority of the total membership of the National Assembly: provided that, if no member secures such majority in the first poll, a second poll shall be held between the members who secure the two highest numbers of votes in the first poll and the member who secures a majority of votes of the members present and voting shall be declared to have been elected as prime minister.”

The procedure for the polls is mentioned in Chapter IV and Second Schedule of the Rules and Procedure for the Conduct of Business in the National Assembly 2007. As per the Second Schedule, “Before voting commences, the speaker shall direct that the bells be rung for five minutes to enable members not present in the chamber to be present. Immediately after the bells stop ringing, all the entrances to the lobby shall be locked and the assembly staff posted at each entrance shall not allow any entry or exit through those entrances until the voting has concluded,” Dawn reported.

The speaker will ask the members who are willing to vote in favour of the candidates to go to the allocated lobbies through the entrance where tellers shall be posted to record the votes. Upon reaching the tellers desk, each member shall, in turn, call out the division number allotted to them as per the rules. The tellers shall then mark off the number on the division list simultaneously calling out the name of the member, Dawn reported.

To ensure that his vote has been properly recorded, the member shall not move until they have heard the tellers call his/her name. After the recording of his/her vote, the member shall not return to the chamber until bells are rung. When the speaker gets information that all the members willing to cast votes have recorded their votes, he shall announce that the voting has ended. Following this, the secretary shall cause the division list to be collected, count the recorded votes, and present the result of the count to the speaker.

The speaker will then direct that the bells be rung for two minutes to allow the members to come back to their chamber. After the bells stop ringing, the Assembly’s Speaker will announce the result in front of lawmakers.