Islamabad, Mar 17: Pakistan's new Parliament will convene today when newly elected members will take oath. At stake are the future course and political stability of the nation of 160 million people as it struggles with economic problems and rising militancy. The outgoing speaker of the National Assembly will swear in the newly elected lawmakers, but the Parliament will only get down to the real business of lawmaking once the new government takes office later in the month.
One-minute silence will be observed in memory of Benazir Bhutto and for the first time in the history of the National Assembly, due to security reasons, Services Chiefs, Supreme Court Judges and other prominent personalities have not been invited to the inaugural session, The News reported. The parties - Pakistan People's Party (PPP), Pakistan Muslim League - Nawaz (PML-N), and the Awami National Party (ANP) - are set to lead the new coalition government. The PPP has said its top priority will be to seek a UN investigation into Benazir Bhutto's assassination on December 27, 2007.
The coalition also hopes to amend the Constitution to strip Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf of his powers to dissolve the country's Parliament and to dismiss the Prime Minister. The National Security Council, which gives the military a formal say in policy matters, may also be axed. The coalition's most explosive plan is expected to be the restoration of some 60 superior court judges, including deposed Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry who were sacked by Musharraf when he declared emergency rule on November 3, 2007.