Given that recent developments in Islamabad do not fall through and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s (MQM) decision to rejoin the government holds, the Sindh Assembly would be left with some interesting seating issues.
It appears that only four members in the entire assembly were anticipating this change of heart on the MQM’s part. The four members of the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) like-minded group, Dr Arbab Ghulam Rahim, Dr Arbab Zulfiqar, Chetan Mal and Razzaque Rahimoon, would be the only ones left on the opposition side.
The Pakistan Muslim League-Functional (PML-F) joint opposition leader, Jam Madad Ali, joined the treasury benches with seven of his party members and was even named minister for youth affairs. Meanwhile, the four other members of the PML-Q, led by the Chaudhry brothers, also joined the treasury benches and were made ministers. As it is, they do not appear to be too willing to abandon their new portfolios and go rushing back to the opposition.
Raza Haroon’s application for opposition leader will be replaced with Rahimoon’s. “We are waiting for MQM’s decision, after that I can move an application for opposition leader in Sindh Assembly,” said Rahimoon who was elected from Thar. He said that he has already talked to speaker Nisar Ahmed Khuhro who asked him to wait for the MQM’s decision to be made official first. He feels there is nothing wrong with a four-man opposition. After all, Yar Muhammad Rind is the only opposition member in the Balochistan Assembly, he observed.
Meanwhile rumours of yet another reshuffling of the cabinet have surfaced. Officials told The Express Tribune that the 14 MQM ministers who tendered their resignation would be re-adjusted in the cabinet and that there are chances that their portfolios would be given back. “Some of the portfolios are yet to be assigned and a few of them have been given to the PML-F and PML-Q members who recently joined the government.”
The official, who preferred to remain unnamed, said that there are chances that the ministry of sports, environment, youth affairs and Auqaf, which have been given to Haleem Adil Shaikh, Shaharyar Mahar, Jam Madad Ali and Rafique Banbhan would be given back to the MQM. “The members of PML-Q and PML-F would be given other portfolios because the government has to adjust them by giving them ministries in cabinet.”
PML-Q’s Haleem Adil Shaikh, adviser to the CM on sports, said that four portfolios were given to them following their party’s announcement of allegiance to the federal government and they would accept whatever their party decides. To add to the opposition’s dismal numbers, one of the four, Dr Arab Rahim, has been absent for the last three-and-a-half years and is currently living in the UAE. The lawmakers on the other side feel that they are making a concession for Rahim as part of their reconciliation policy by allowing his absence to go unpunished. He would have been disqualified otherwise.
Rahimoon pointed out that some of the Pakistan Peoples Party MPAs, including Ruqia Khanum Soomro, have also been absent. “We apply for Dr Rahim’s leave during every session, but the PPP lady MPA has never applied for leave and we have not raised the issue,” he said. “You can call it ‘reconciliation policy’, but it does not mean that we will keep quiet over the Sindh issue.”
Sindh Assembly Secretary Hadi Bux Buriro said that, if leave a member’s leave application is not granted, the member can be disqualified within 40 days of the application being rejected. “It is up to the decision of the majority and the government always has majority,” was his astute observation.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 7th, 2011.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ