Pakistan will elect its first female speaker of the National Assembly today, news sources reported. According to Bloomberg, Fehmida Mirza was nominated for the position by the Pakistan People’s Party, (PPP) and will run against Muhammad Israr Tarin, the candidate from the PML-Q. The outgoing speaker, Chaudhry Amir Hussain, will call the vote at 1100 (PST). Mirza is a seasoned politician from Benazir Bhutto‘s hometown in Sindh. Her husband, Zulfiqar Mirza, is “a long standing ally of Asif Ali Zardari,” the BBC reported. Fehmida Mirza currently sits in the Sindh provincial assembly.
Media outlets reporting on the development underscored the significance of a potential female NA speaker. The News noted, “Never before in the history of Pakistan’s National Assembly were the words “Madam Speaker” uttered. It will be for the first time that the chair will be addressed as “Madam Speaker”, another first added by the PPP to the political lexicon.” The Pak Tribune framed the “nomination and almost certain election” of Mirza in light of the broader debate over who will be appointed Prime Minister of the country. The news source noted the development “has practically sealed the fate of Makhdoom Amin Fahim and his aspirations to become the prime minister of Pakistan.” A prominent PPP member told the media, “There is not even an iota of doubt left now that the PPP`s prime ministerial nominee will be from the majority province [Punjab].” Chaudhry Ahmad Mukhtar, a possible candidate, said that if the speaker is from Sindh, “the prime minister would be from the Punjab.” According to the Tribune, Mukhtar believes “this is quite obvious.” As has been reported before, the PPP is reportedly meant to announce their PM candidate this week. Until then, there are abundant speculations among media outlets on the possible outcome.
UPDATE: Mirza defeated Israr Tarin “easily” in a vote that was carried out by secret ballot. She reportedly received 249 out of 324 votes. Tarin only received 70. Following her win, Mirza told reporters, “It is one thing to sit in opposition, but this chair carries big responsibility … I am feeling that responsibility today and will, God willing, come up to expectations.”