Never before: Sindh Assembly still without an opposition leader

They have not had an opposition leader for 6 months.


Hafeez Tunio December 15, 2011

KARACHI:


The Sindh Assembly session will kick off on Friday without an opposition leader and it is the only provincial assembly which has not had an opposition leader in the last six months.


Pakistan Muslim League-Functional MPA Jam Madad Ali was the last joint opposition leader, but in July, his party decided to join the treasury benches and he became the minister for science and technology.

Since every party except for Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (likeminded group) led by former Chief Minister Dr Arbab Ghulam Rahim joined the treasury benches, four members of Rahim’s group requested the Sindh Assembly speaker to nominate Rahim as their opposition leader.  According to party members, they were still waiting the response from Speaker to allot them opposition seats and nominate their opposition leader.

“I think PPP government, which claims to be a democratic party, is not willing to allot the slot of opposition leader to Dr. Rahim because of its past rivalry with him,” said PML-Q MPA Razzaque Rahimoon. He said that PML-Q likeminded is the only opposition group in a 168-member house.  “Out of 168 members of assembly five belong to our group. We have applied for opposition seats and we have conveyed the name of opposition leader, but the speaker is avoiding it,” he said.

But speaker Nisar Khuhro has a different argument to offer. He said that they cannot allot the slot of opposition leader to a man who claims to be leader of likeminded group which is not registered with the Election Commission of Pakistan. “How can we accept an opposition leader from the unregistered party,” he said.

But Razzaque Rahimoon disagreed with Khuhro’s contention and argued that if his party was not registered, then why had separate seats been allotted to their party members in Senate and National Assembly and parliamentary leaders of the party had also been nominated. “We will protest during assembly session (on Friday) if seats are not allotted to us,” he said adding that in Balochistan there is only one opposition member, Yar Muhammad Rind, who has been nominated as leader of the opposition in the assembly. “We have five times more strength as compared to Balochistan. I think the PPP government should avoid establishing a new precedent in the parliamentary history of Pakistan, because since independence there has never been any assembly without leader of the opposition,” he lamented.

Regarding leader of the opposition, Secretary Sindh Assembly Hadi Bux Burrio said that the presence and consent of a man who is going to be leader of the opposition is mandatory at the time of his/her nomination.  “Dr. Sahib is out of the country. He has sent an application that he could not travel due to his health problem, so how one can appoint him leader of the opposition,” he said.

On the other hand, Law Minister Ayaz Soomro said that the session had been called to complete parliamentary year of the provincial assembly. He said that they have completed around 34 days and the remaining 64 days are to be covered by the end of parliamentary year which finishes on April 4. “We will legislate on some issues and introduce a few bills as well. But we cannot make such a legislation, which creates controversy,” he said.

Official sources said the government was not likely to introduce any new law relating to local government system as both the PPP and MQM have not yet evolved a consensus on the issue.

Among the agenda for Friday’s session there is a privilege motion which has been tabled by PPP-MPA Pitanbar Sewani against the controller of Board of Intermediate Education, Hyderabad. In his privilege motion Sewani has stated that his intermediate certificate is though genuine, but newly appointed controller was delaying its verification.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 16th, 2011.

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