KP Choosing CM Today, Balochistan Tomorrow

Following the appointment of custodians of the house on Thursday, lawmakers from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan are set to elect their respective leaders of the house in the chief ministerial elections on Friday and Saturday.

In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the PTI has put forward Ali Amin Gandapur as its nominee for the esteemed position, competing against PML-N candidate Ibadullah Khan. The polling is scheduled for 10 am.

Meanwhile, in Balochistan, the PPP, which is poised to secure the CM seat uncontested, has yet to announce its nominee, with just one day left until the election. A source disclosed to Dawn that the announcement of the candidate is expected today (Friday), with hopes that the PPP CM will be elected unopposed, mirroring the scenario of the Balochistan Assembly speaker election.

During the KP Assembly session on Thursday, Babar Saleem Swati was elected as the speaker and Suraiya Bibi as the deputy speaker. Despite the session proceeding relatively calmly, chants in support of Imran Khan persisted throughout.

At the commencement of the session, outgoing speaker Mushtaq Ahmad Ghani administered the oath to Abdul Munim and Laiq Khan, followed by voting for the KP Assembly speaker.

Babar Saleem Swati, supported by PTI-backed Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC), emerged victorious against Ehsanullah Khan, the joint candidate of PPP, ANP, PML-N, and PTI-Parliamentarians, securing 89 votes to Khan’s 17 in the 106-member house.

After administering the oath to the newly-elected speaker Swati, voting commenced for the deputy speaker position. Suraiya Bibi, who won from Chitral on a general seat, defeated PTI-P’s Arbab Muhammad Waseem, securing 87 votes against his 19.

The session was boycotted by JUI-F members. PTI workers continued their pro-Imran Khan chants during the session, with slogans against PML-N’s Sobia Shahid prompting a reaction from her. Shahid gestured towards the guest gallery and approached CM-designate Ali Amin Gandapur, urging calm.

In Balochistan, PML-N nominee Abdul Khaliq Achakzai and PPP’s Ghazala Gola were respectively elected speaker and deputy speaker without facing any opposition. Achakzai’s nomination by PML-N came at the eleventh hour. The session was presided over by Zamrak Khan Piralizai, who administered the oath to the newly-elected speaker, followed by the unopposed election of Ghazala Gola as deputy speaker.

National Party chief Dr. Abdul Malik and three others boycotted the proceedings, alleging election irregularities. Speaker Achakzai assured the house of impartial proceedings, emphasizing cooperation and understanding among all members, while expressing reservations about the National Party’s boycott.

Former interior minister Sarfaraz Bugti, who had skipped Wednesday’s proceedings, was administered oath on Thursday, while PML-N’s Jam Kamal Alyani and Mir Zafar Zehri were absent from the session.

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