Pakistan elects its first female speaker of parliament
(dpa) - Pakistan's parliament elected its first female house speaker Wednesday, officials said.
Three-time member-of-parliament Fahmida Mirza, who when she entered parliament in the morning was greeted with members of all parties knocking on their desktops as a sign of approval, sailed through the vote with 249 of the 327 members of pariament voting for her.
Mitza is a member of the coalition leading Pakistan People's Party (PPP) of slain former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.
Senior PPP leader and former house speaker Yousaf Raza Geelani welcomed the vote of a woman as speaker.
"It's a good step. It will promote Pakistan's soft image in the world," he said.
The 13th National Assembly sworn in Monday has a record 76 women members of parliament.
The PPP, which leads the incoming coalition government, will also name the next prime minister who will lead the government, but Wednesday they still had not said who that would be.
The party cannot agree on a candidate and in the meantime current caretaker Prime Minister Muhammadmian Soomro will continue in the post.
The PPP finished first and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) of Nawaz Sharif, also a former premier, finished second in the February 18 election, while the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q), President Pervez Musharraf's political backers, finished a distant third.
The PPP and Sharif's party formed a coalition after ironing out differences concerning how to address the issue of restoring senior judges Musharraf deposed in November.
Restoring the judges has been a central issue for the coalition, signaling a showdown with Musharraf.
Musharraf removed more than 60 senior judges under an emergency order on November 3. He sacked the judges to prevent the Supreme Court from disqualifying him for another presidential term.
Once the deposed judges are reinstated they can revoke the approval and force Musharraf to leave office. But Musharraf has shown no signs he will step down willingly.