New provincial chief: MQM stays out of CM’s election, others stay neutral

PTI fields Khurram Sher Zaman against Murad Ali Shah


Our Correspondent July 28, 2016
PPP has appointed Syed Murad Ali Shah as the next Chief Minister of Sindh. PHOTO: PPI

KARACHI: When it votes in a new chief minister today, the Sindh Assembly will be divided over its choice as the main contender, Murad Ali Shah, is enjoying the support of only the treasury benches.

The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) will "abstain" from the elections while other opposition parties, such as Pakistan Muslim League - Functional and Pakistan Muslim League - Nawaz, are choosing to stay neutral. The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) is, however, fielding its own candidate, Khurram Sher Zaman.

The Sindh Assembly secretary, GM Umar Farooq, received seven nomination forms from Shah, Zaman and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leaders Dr Sikandar Mandhro and Jam Mehtab Dahar. "Four different forms have been submitted by Murad Ali Shah with difference proposers and seconders in order to avoid any mistake in any form," he said, adding that Dr Mandhro and Dahar are Shah's covering candidates. "The contest will be between Khurram Sher Zaman and Murad Ali Shah."

The polling will be held inside the assembly during the session, which will start at 3pm. "There will be no secret ballot for the chief minister's election," said Farooq. The members will support either by raising their hands, standing up at their seats or by forming different groups in favour or against the contesting candidates, he explained. The results will be announced by the speaker and the winning candidate will take oath from the governor at 7pm.

Rifts between PPP and MQM

Until Thursday, it seemed as if the PPP and MQM were supporting each other but, according to a PPP official, MQM had some conditions. MQM conveyed to the PPP that it will support Shah if he visits Nine Zero, he claimed. Shah apparently refused to go given that PPP already has a simple majority in the House, he added.

On the other hand, the MQM held a parliamentary party meeting after which it criticised the PPP government for its bad governance. It also announced its decision to boycott the electoral process in protest. "No change will take place in Sindh with inducting Murad as chief minister," said opposition leader MQM's Khawaja Izharul Haq. "This is all drama. Our party will not become part of it."

Optimistic contenders

PTI's Zaman, whose party has only three members in the assembly, was confident about contesting against Shah despite the fact that no other opposition party is supporting him.

There are four vacant seats in the assembly due to deaths, disqualifications and resignations. Moreover, three PPP members — Sharjeel Memon, Owais Muzaffar and Hasnain Mirza — are out of the country. Meanwhile, the CM-nominee said he will quash the perception that the Sindh government was being run by PPP MNA Faryal Talpur or MPA Muzaffar. "You will see change in the first three months," he said.

Composition: Sindh Assembly party break-down:

PPP                    91

MQM                 50

PML-F               11

PML-N              9

PTI                    3

Vacant seats     4

Total                     168

Published in The Express Tribune, July 29th, 2016.

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