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March 19, 2008
Pakistan elects first Female Speaker
The Pakistani parliament has been seated and their first order of business was the election of a female speaker - a first in Pakistan's history:
"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. A possible monkey wrench being thrown into the building of the coalition between the Pakistani People's Party and the Pakistani Muslim League is that slain prime minister Benazir Bhutto's husband has changed his mind and now wants to be prime minister.
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.
Asif Zardari, recently cleared of corruption charges, has indicated he would like to stand for prime minister - just as soon as he can be elected to parliament. It is believed that former prime minister Nawaz Sharif is adamantly opposed to Zardari becoming PM and could derail talks on forming a government.