KARACHI: The newly elected members of the Sindh Assembly will take oath today (Monday) with the beginning of the new parliamentary year of the provincial assembly. Sindh Assembly Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani will administer oath to 165 members in the House that comprises 168 MPAs. The three seats are vacant because official notification of the victory of two candidates has been withheld due to pending petitions in courts, and elections on one of the constituencies were deferred due to the death of a candidate.
Briefing about the inaugural session, Sindh Assembly Secretary GM Umer Farooq said Durrani, who was elected as the speaker by the last assembly, still continues his position as the custodian of the house. He will himself also take oath as he has been elected again to the House.
According to Farooq, the assembly session has been summoned on only one-point agenda, which is the oath-taking ceremony. After the MPAs have taken oath, the session will be adjourned with the announcement of the elections for the speaker and deputy speaker, the assembly secretary said, adding that nomination forms for the two posts will be made available after the oath-taking ceremony.
Of the 168 seats of the Sindh Assembly, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) has secured a total of 97 seats which also include reserved seats for women and minorities. The party will easily form the government and get elected its nominees for the speaker and deputy speaker slots. The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), which is the second largest party with a total of 30 seats in the House, is expected to get the post of the leader of the opposition.
The 168 seats in the assembly comprise 130 general seats which are for those who emerged victorious in the general elections. The remaining seats include reserved seats for women and minorities which are given to political parties on proportional basis.
According to notified results, the PPP won 75 general seats and secured 17 women seats and five minorities seats, making its total strength of 97 in the assembly. The PTI has 23 general, five women and two minorities seats, making a total of 30.
The Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan has a total of 21 MPAs, which include 16 on general seats, four on women seats and one minority member. The fourth largest party in the House is the Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) with a total of 13 MPAs with 10 on general seats, two on women and one on minorities seats. The Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan will have three MPAs in the Sindh Assembly with one two on general seats and one on women seats, while a single MPA elected on general seats will be representing the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal.
The Pakistan Peoples Party has already nominated Durrani as the speaker for a second consecutive term and Rehana Leghari as the deputy speaker. Former chief minister Murad Ali Shah has also been announced by the PPP as its candidate for chief minister (CM). The election for the CM will take place after the assembly has elected its speaker and deputy speaker.
Although the PPP is poised to have its speaker, deputy speaker and CM, the opposition parties will contest the elections for the said posts. the PTI has announced that it will finalise its nominee for the speaker today.
Earlier PTI had decided to field Firdous Shamim Naqvi for the slot of opposition leader, but reportedly withdrew his name following his remarks against MQM. There are reports that PTI is now considering the name of Haleem Adil Shaikh who has also gained the support of MQM and GDA.
Lobbying for cabinet
It has been reported that PPP leaders have started lobbying for getting ministries in the Sindh government which will be headed by Murad who won the elections from his home constituency in Jamshoro.
The PPP has already finalised some names for the cabinet in its parliamentary meeting held three days ago. According to sources privy to the matter, the cabinet will be finalised in two or three phases. In the first phase, Jam Khan Shoro, Mukesh Kumar Chawla, Saeed Ghani, Shehla Raza, Azra Pechuho, Sardar Ali Shah and Sohail Anwar Siyal will likely be inducted in the cabinet.
A mix of veterans and newcomers
The new MPAs include many veteran political leaders who have been elected to the provincial assembly time and again since the 1990s. There are some MPAs who have been elected to the House for the third consecutive time. However, a significant number of MPAs are newcomers who will start their parliamentary career today.
There are around 20 veterans who have been representing the people of Sindh in the House for the past three decades. They include former chief minister Qaim Ali Shah, Agha Siraj Durrani, Dr Sohrab Sarki, Mir Nadir Magsi, Naeem Kharal, Jam Madad Ali and Syed Ali Mardan Shah of the PPP and Muhammad Hasnain of the MQM-P who were elected to the assembly at least once in three decades.
GDA’s Shaharyar Khan Mehar, Barrister Hasnain Mirza, Nasrat Sehar Abbasi, Dr Rafiq Bhanban; MQM-P’s Khawaja Izharul Hasan; and PPP’s Sharjeel Memon, Shehla Raza, Tariq Arain, Imdad Pitafi, Shahid Thaeem, Nawab Taimur Talpur and Heer Soho will be completing their hat trick in the assembly.
Aroung 70 MPAs – more than one third of the total assembly – will start their parliamentary career today. They include 17 women and 6 minority representatives. They include 28 MPAs of the PTI including Aslam Abro, Firdous Shamim Naqvi, Shahryar Shar, Raja Azhar, Jamal Siddiqui, Tahira Dua Bhutto and Sidra Imran. The MQM-P also has 14 MPAs who will be participating in the Sindh Assembly session for the first time. They include Muhammad Wajahat, Ghulam Jilani, Javed Hanif and Nasir Qureshi.
As many as 27 MPAs of the PPP are also newcomers in the House. They, however, also include former MNAs such as Azra Pechuho and Faryal Talpur, sisters of PPP Co-Chairperson Asif Ali Zardari. Other PPP newcomers include Munawar Wasan, Qasim Siraj Soomro, Makhdoom Mehboobuz Zaman, Tariq Talpur, Hari Ram Kashori, Mumtaz Ali Chandio, Raja Razzaq, Saleem Baloch, Nida Khoro and Saadia Javed
All the MPAs of the TLP and MMA are also among those who will start their parliamentary career.