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Pakistan's Newly Elected Parliament Chooses Speaker

Asad Qaisar
Asad Qaisar

Pakistan's lower house of parliament has chosen a lawmaker from the Pakistan Tehrik-e Insaf (PTI) party to be the parliament speaker following general elections in July that were marred by allegations of fraud.

Asad Qaiser on August 15 secured 176 votes in the legislature to defeat Khusheed Shah, a joint candidate backed by opposition parties who received 146 votes.

PTI leader Imran Khan, a former cricket star turned politician, appears set to become prime minister when the 342-seat National Assembly votes on August 17. A swearing-in ceremony is scheduled for August 18.

The July 25 elections were won by the PTI, knocking former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) from power.

But the PTI must ally with independents to form a majority coalition.

Shortly after Qaiser's election, PML-N lawmakers from Sharif's party chanted slogans against the election oversight body, saying, "We say no to fake mandate."

They also chanted the name of Sharif, who was ousted from office in 2017 and jailed on corruption charges.

In his speech, the new parliament speaker sought to pacify the opposition by saying he would treat all lawmakers fairly.

Before being elected to the federal parliament, Qaiser was the speaker of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province's assembly from 2013 to 2018.

Supporters of the opposition parties have protested alleged fraud and voting irregularities in the elections, directly blaming the country's powerful military.

The army denies it intervened to help Kahn take power. Khan has vowed to investigate the allegations once he takes office.

A monitoring team from the European Union has said the election results "overall" were "credible," although they criticized the campaign -- saying it was marred by the intimidation of some candidates, an effort to undermine the former ruling party, and media self-censorship.

Violence leading to at least 31 deaths also was reported on election day.

With reporting by AP, Reuters, and Dawn