National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervez Ashraf on Friday declared dissident Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) MNA Raja Riaz Ahmad as the new Leader of the Opposition after he secured the support of 16 lawmakers in the Lower House.
“Speaker National Assembly Raja Pervaiz Ashraf declares Raja Riaz Ahmad, MNA as the Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly of Pakistan under Rule 39 of the Rules of Procedures and Conduct of Business in the National Assembly,” the National Assembly announced through its Twitter account. In a video clip shared with the statement, it showed the speaker declaring Riaz as the new leader of the Opposition.
According to Ashraf, he had earlier announced in the National Assembly that any Opposition lawmaker wishing to become its leader could show their strength and prove their relevant support to him. He said opposition MNAs interested in becoming the Opposition leader were given until 3 p.m. on Friday to submit their nomination papers with the signatures of supporting lawmakers.
The signatures were verified by 4 p.m., he said, adding that in addition to Raja Riaz, Ghous Bux Khan Mahar and Hussain Elahi had also submitted their nomination papers for the post. He said that Elahi had subsequently withdrawn his nomination in favor of Mahar, but the latter had only been able to secure the support of six MNAs.
“Therefore, I declare Raja Riaz as leader of Opposition,” he added.
Riaz is a member of the Jahangir Tareen group of the PTI. Observers say his role takes on particular significance right now, as the 18th Amendment requires the prime minister to consult the opposition leader for key nominations, including the NAB chairman and the caretaker prime minister.