Pakistan's National Assembly meets for 1st time since May vote

The outgoing speaker of Pakistan's National Assembly Fahmid Mirza administered the oath of office Saturday to the members of the assembly elected May 11.

Mohammad Nawaz Sharif, expected to be elected prime minister next week, "thanked God" a change of power in Pakistan had taken place through voting.

"I pray...changes in the future also occur in similar manner. Government comes and goes through votes," Sharif told reporters outside the assembly building.

Sharif, then an elected prime minister, was ousted in a military coup in October 1999 by then Army Chief Gen. Pervez Musharraf who sent Sharif first to prison and then exiled him to Saudi Arabia.

Saturday, as Sharif was entering the National Assembly where he will once again become prime minister, Musharraf is under house arrest at his farm, charged with various crimes during his dictatorship.

Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League won 186 seats in the 342-member assembly in the election last month and will form a majority government next week.

"We have to get economic independence. We have to stand on our own feet," Sharif said outside the assembly building.

Sharif's deputy Chauddri Nisar Ali said the new Cabinet will be "small, work-oriented and transparent."

Ali is expected to be interior minister in the new Cabinet, which is expected to be formed Wednesday after the assembly votes on the prime minister.

Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf Chairman Imran Khan, who had been seen as a possible spoiler in last month's election, is still recovering from a back injury sustained when he fell during an election rally and did not attend the National Assembly session Saturday.

Khurshid Shah, leader in parliament of the Pakistan Peoples Party that formed the previous government, said he will strive to create an "understanding" among all the opposition parties in the assembly to counter the PML government.

The PPP is the second biggest party in the assembly with 40 seats, followed by Khan's PTI with 35 and the Muttahida Quami Movement with 23.

An election for speaker and deputy speaker is set for Monday.