HYDERABAD: Two MPAs of Arbab Ghulam Rahim’s party have gone to court to try and prevent him from losing his seat as he has been away from the Sindh Assembly for several years.
Arbab Zulfiqar and Abdul Razzaque Rahimoon of the Pakistan Muslim League-L (PML-L) filed their petition in the Sindh High Court pleading that their party chief’s request for leave be accepted. Rahim had applied for leave and has been out of the country ever since this government came to power.
The MPAs also want him to be declared leader of the opposition. They requested the court to direct Sindh Assembly Speaker Nisar Khuhro not to declare the seat vacant till the petition is decided.
Only last month the high court issued a verdict enabling Arbab Rahim’s to return from exile. His supporters and party workers won a word of assurance from a court that their leader will neither be arrested nor booked in any case on his return to Pakistan. Arbab went into self-exile in April 2008, soon after taking oath as a member of the Sindh Assembly. Since then he has been submitting leave applications regularly to the House. Then, for the first time in four years, on March 6, the assembly turned down his leave application, which was submitted by MPA Rahimoon.
The petitioners took exception to the demands made by some Pakistan Peoples Party MPAs who asked for a by-election to be held on Arbab’s seat. “The ruling party brags of its democratic credentials yet it is afraid of a genuine opposition in the house,” read the petition that was filed in the SHC.
The post of the Sindh Assembly Opposition leader has been vacant for about eight months as PML-F MPA Jam Madad Ali left it to join the government. “The current leader of the opposition is also a member of the provincial cabinet,” pointed out the petition. According to the constitution, the former chief minister was an opposition leader, they maintained.
The division bench of Justice Faisal Arab and Justice Syed Hasan Azhar Rizvi issued notices to Speaker Khuhro and the additional advocate general to submit their response on March 21.
The PML-L has four seats in the provincial assembly and its candidates also contested the by-elections held on February 25.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 13th, 2012.
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