Tumultuous Start for 16th National Assembly

Thu Feb 29 2024
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Naveed Miraj

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The inaugural session of the 16th National Assembly, which took place on Thursday amidst the backdrop of uncertainty surrounding the convening of the session as well as political tension and allegations of rigging, starkly contrasts with the smooth and ceremonial affairs often witnessed in other countries during such events. The tumultuous nature of the maiden session, where newly elected members took their oaths, once again underscored the deeply polarized political landscape in the country.

The session commenced with Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf administering the oath to lawmakers, including prominent figures like former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif, ex-president Asif Zardari, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, and JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman. However, the atmosphere quickly turned chaotic as Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-backed lawmakers, now aligned with the Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC), initiated protest against alleged rigging in the elections.



Carrying banners bearing the image of their incarcerated leader, Imran Khan, they raised full-throated slogans in support of Khan and against their political adversaries. In response, PML-N lawmakers retaliated with chants in support of Nawaz Sharif and Shehbaz Sharif, deriding Imran Khan as a “watch thief.” In response to the points raised by Gohar Ali Khan and Omer Ayub, Khawaja Asif took off his wrist watch and waved it in an apparent reference to the Toshakhana reference against Imran Khan.

The scenes unfolding in the National Assembly were telecast across the nation, reflecting poorly on the conduct of elected representatives. At a time when maturity, patience, and tolerance were expected, the spectacle of bickering and confrontation would have only served to deepen the disillusionment of the populace.

Compounding the political discord are concerns raised by PTI regarding electoral rigging, bolstered by recent leaks, including the video release featuring MQM’s Mustafa Kamal. The PTI alleges that their mandate has been stolen and insists that their grievances are addressed urgently. In an era where information flows freely, the transparency of electoral processes is paramount to maintaining public trust and upholding democratic values. The manipulation of electoral processes cannot be hidden from public scrutiny.


As newly elected members were making their way into the parliament house, there were murmurs and whispers casting doubt on the legitimacy of certain victories, purportedly achieved through manipulation of Form 47. This mockery and skepticism underscore a broader issue plaguing our democracy – the erosion of trust in the electoral system. The public, increasingly aware of their rights and empowered by access to information, demands accountability and integrity in the electoral process. Any perception of electoral malpractice not only fuels anxiety among the people but also undermines the very foundation of democratic norms and traditions.

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The stakes are high, as manipulation in Form 47 could set a dangerous precedent, eroding public trust and confidence in the electoral system as a whole. The repercussions of such distrust extend far beyond the political sphere, potentially destabilizing the social fabric of the nation. In addressing these concerns, the onus falls squarely on institutions entrusted with upholding democratic principles. The Election Commission and the judiciary have a greater responsibility to ensure the integrity of the electoral process and to impartially investigate the allegations of rigging. Only through robust oversight and enforcement of electoral laws can the public’s faith in the democratic process be restored.

Amidst the political turmoil, the country faces pressing economic and security challenges, necessitating a united front from lawmakers to steer the country in the right direction. To fulfill the expectations of their constituents, elected representatives must prioritize national interests over petty political rivalries. They should divert their attention to live up to the expectations of the masses.


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