Pak National Assembly begins inaugural session

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Islamabad, Mar 17: Pakistan's National Assembly began its inaugural session here today amid speculation about an impending confrontation between President Pervez Musharraf and the political forces ranged against him and heightened security concerns following a series of bomb blasts across the country.

Outgoing Assembly Speaker Chowdhury Amir Hussain administered the oath to the newly elected members. The election of Speaker and Deputy Speaker would be held on Wednesday through secret ballot. No date has been set for the election of the Leader of the House. Ahead of the inaugural session, leaders of the Pakistan People's Party (PPP), Pakistan Muslim League (N) and the Awami national Party (ANP) held a joint meeting to discuss the strategy they would adopt during the session.

After the meeting, former Prime Minister and PML(N) chief Nawaz Sharif told reporters that the agenda of the three parties was very clear: democracy has to be strengthened and dictatorship must end.

PPP leader Asif Ali Zardari said the meeting of the three parties ahead of the Assembly session was the first step towards democracy.

The world must strengthen democracy in Pakistan.

Mr Makhtoom Amin Fahim, the PPP leader who was until recently considered the front-runner for the Prime Ministership, said no decision had been taken by the three parties on their nominee for the Premiership.

Chowdhury Ahmed Mukhtar of the PPP said it was for all parties to sit together to strengthen democracy in Pakistan.

The seats in the House have been allotted on the basis of Urdu alphabets that are later to be segregated on party basis.


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