News

Pakistan's Parliament Elects First Female Speaker

Multimedia

Audio

Pakistan has seen its first significant transfer of power since last month's nationwide elections. The speaker of the National Assembly, a backer of President Pervez Musharraf, handed over control of the legislative body to a member of the Pakistan Peoples Party of the slain former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Islamabad that no progress has been made towards selecting the country's next prime minister.

As expected, Pakistan's parliament has selected its first female speaker.

"Dr. Fehmida Mirza has received 249 votes," incumbent Chaudhry Amir Hussain, a supporter of President Pervez Musharraf, announced the vote total in the 342-seat National Assembly.

Parliament members then pounded their open hands on their desks for 30 seconds to applaud Fehmida Mirza of the Pakistan Peoples Party. The 51-year-old medical doctor and mother of four children is a third-generation Pakistani politician. Her father twice served in the cabinet; her husband was a member of parliament; and her father-in-law was a Supreme Court justice.

Mirza's manner of speech and dress evoke images of Benazir Bhutto, the head of the PPP, who was assassinated on the campaign trail less than three months ago.

Mirza will be tasked with controlling a legislature where two traditional rivals, Mrs. Bhutto's party and the Muslim League faction of another former prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, have agreed to share power. She acknowledges it may not be an ideal setup for governing Pakistan, but says it can work.

"Nowhere in the world you get the ideal situation," said Mirza. "Even in our neighborhood, India, there are coalition governments. So you should know and this country should learn how to move with the coalitions. There is nothing unusual having coalitions in the country."

But who will head that coalition government remains the big unanswered question. Under the power-sharing agreement, the PPP's candidate will be supported by its coalition partner. The two parties have enough seats in the new parliament to elect the candidate they will support.

Despite mounting concern that no name has been revealed, a month after the national elections, PPP spokeswoman Sherry Rehman is echoing comments of other party officials who are repeating the mantra of "no hurry, no worry."

"There is no delay," said Rehman. "The media has to understand that political parties work on their schedules, not on anyone else's."

Pakistani media say Mrs. Bhutto's widower, party Co-Chair Asif Zardari, has decided he wants to be prime minister, despite repeated early protestations he was not interested. Until Zardari, recently cleared of a slew of corruption charges, can secure a seat in parliament -- a pre-requisite for the top government post -- the party is expected to announce an interim candidate, later in the month.

The political uncertainty comes as Pakistan tries to move back to democracy. Some influential members of parliament want to impeach unpopular President Musharraf. The former army chief seized control of Pakistan in a military coup in 1999. Mr. Musharraf allowed free elections to take place last month, in which the party backing him was trounced.

Legislators and the president are also on a collision course about the judiciary. During a state of emergency, last November, Mr. Musharraf removed the top layer of the country's judges, replacing them with justices seen as more compliant to the president. Under the power-sharing accord, the two top parties in the February election have vowed to have the fired judges reinstated within 30 days.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’i
X
July 29, 2015 9:34 PM
Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs