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.
    Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clownsi
    X
    February 09, 2016 8:04 PM
    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay Prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Middle East Affairs and national security.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.