n Sibtain Khan defeats Saiful Malook Khokhar of PML-N by 10 votes n Deputy Speaker removed through no-confidence vote.

 

LAHORE    -   The Punjab Assembly on Friday elected Mohammad Sibtain Khan of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) as the new Speaker, returning to a semblance of normalcy after three months of political upheaval in Punjab.

Sibtain Khan, a lawmaker belonging to a remote district of Mianwali, defeated Saiful Malook Khokhar of the PML-N by 10 votes. He got 185 votes as against his rival’s 175.

Four votes were rejected, presumably three from the Opposition and one from the ruling alliance. Two Punjab Assembly members, Jalil Sharqpuri and Faisal Niazi of the PML-N recently resigned from their Assembly seats while one PML-N member Kashif Mahmood was disqualified in a fake degree case.  Ch Nisar Ali Khan, an independent member, did not turn up to cast his vote in the speaker’s election.

The polling process went smoothly except for two brief interruptions. Panel of Chairman Wasim Khan Badozai conducted the voting for election of the Speaker. The polling had to be stopped for five minutes when Rana Mashhood and Saiful Malook Khokhar of the PML-N raised objection to the serial number written on the ballot paper and the counter-file. They argued with the Secretary Assembly and exchanged hot words. They were of the view that secrecy of the ballot has been compromised as it was possible to find out later who had voted for whom.  In the meanwhile, Saiful Malook snatched the Ballot register from the Secretary Assembly and threw it towards the Opposition benches. Rukhsana Kausar of the PML-N got hold of it and plucked four ballot papers. The presiding chairman called the security staff to protect the ballot boxes and polling material.

The matter was later resolved but the ballot papers were not returned as they were not stamped and could not be misused.

The House also witnessed a brief commotion when the Deputy Speaker Sardar Dost Mohammad Mazari entered the House escorted by PML-N members. The PTI members raised slogans of “lota lota” as he approached the Secretary Assembly to get his ballot paper.

The ruling party members also surrounded the polling booth apparently to manhandle him. At one point, the Opposition and Treasury members were face to face, but the scuffle was averted by the intervention of saner lawmakers from both sides.

Also, following his election, Sibtain Khan took the oath of office. Presiding chairman Wasim Khan Badozai administered the oath and vacated the chair for the new speaker.

Speaker Muhammad Sibtain Khan was born in 1958 in Mianwali district. He obtained his Masters degree in Political Science from Punjab University in 1982. He has been elected member of Punjab Assembly four times. From 1990 to 1993, Sibtain served as Minister for Prison. He served as Minister for Mines and Minerals from 2002 to 2007. In the 2013 general elections, he returned to the Punjab Assembly for the third time. He was elected as MPAs for the fourth time in 2018 elections and was one of the few strong candidates for the slot of chief minister. He served in the cabinet of Sardar Usman Buzdar as Minister for Forest and Wildlife. During this period, he was also arrested by NAB and remained in prison for around four months. He was also the opposition leader in the Punjab Assembly during the recent constitutional crisis.

Meanwhile, Deputy Speaker Punjab Assembly Sardar Dost Mohammad Mazari lost his office after a no-trust motion moved against him was declared successful on the night between Friday and Saturday.

While the opposition did not take part in the voting, Mazari was voted out with 186 votes cast against him by the treasury members. The treasury needed exactly this many numbers of votes for the motion to be successful. The motion against Mazari could have been defeated if the Opposition had poached one of the treasury members in a secret ballot.

The process of voting on the no-trust motion started after midnight under the chair of newly-elected Speaker Sibtain Khan.

The PTI and the PML-Q alliance removed their own deputy speaker from the office after they accused him of supporting the PML-N. It may be recalled here that Mazari was manhandled by members of the two parties on April 16 during the first election for the Punjab chief minister. The no-trust motion against Mazari was pending for the last three months. The election of a new Deputy Speaker will be held on Sunday (tomorrow) at 1 pm.