Raja Pervaiz Ashraf of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) is set to assume the office of the National Assembly speaker on Saturday (today) as no other candidate on Friday submitted nomination papers against him.

Ashraf, who previously served as the prime minister, will be administered the oath of the office on Saturday. In another development, the National Assembly, which was earlier scheduled to meet on April 22, has now been convened to meet on on Saturday to take up the no-confidence resolution moved against Dep­uty Speaker Qasim Suri, who is curre­ntly functioning as the acting speaker.

The office of the speaker fell vacant after Asad Qaiser resigned in line with the PTI’s decision minutes before the voting on the no-confidence resolution against Imran Khan on April 9. After announcing his decision to resign, Qaiser had asked Ayaz Sadiq of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) to take charge and conduct the vote on the no-trust resolution in line with the Supreme Court order.

Interestingly, Deputy Speaker Suri had also refused to conduct the election of the prime minister and left the house after handing over the charge to Ayaz Sadiq on April 11. Soon after the election and maiden speech of Shehbaz Sharif as the prime minister, Suri had all of a sudden returned to the house and adjourned the sitting till April 16 when Ayaz had already annou­nced the name of PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari to take the floor.

Later, on April 13, Suri changed the schedule of the National Assembly sitting from April 16 to April 22. The National Assembly Secretariat had already announced the schedule for the election of the NA speaker on April 16 for which the nomination papers were to be submitted by Friday.

The PTI on Thursday announced that Suri had accepted the resignations of 123 MNAs and the NA Secretariat had also issued a notification in this regard.

The PPP and the PML-N criticised Suri for continuing in the office despite submission of the no-confidence resolution against him by them on April 8. They also alleged that Suri had presurrised the NA Secre­tariat to accept the resignations.

The members of the National Assembly on Friday received a circular from Additional Secretary of Legislation of the NA Secretariat Muhammad Mushtaq informing them that the motion for leave to move the resolution for removal of the deputy speaker from the office would be taken up on April 16.

The NA Secretariat has already issued a four-point agenda which contained voting on the no-confidence resolution, election of the speaker and his oath-taking. According to PTI insiders, Suri is expected to resign from the office before voting on the resolution against him.

Once the assembly elects its speaker the focus will move on to the election of deputy speaker for which Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazal’s Shahida Akhtar Ali is said to be front runner.

Insiders in the present ruling alliance said that there had been a consensus among the coalition partners that after removal of Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani through a no-trust resolution, PPP’s Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani, who is also a former prime minister like Ashraf, will be the candidate for the office.

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