HYDERABAD/ KARACHI: The move to disqualify Arbab Ghulam Rahim from the Sindh Assembly drew an outcry in Karachi and Tharparkar and sent ripples of protests in the adjoining districts of Badin, Umerkot and Mirpurkhas on Friday.
Dozens of Rahim’s supporters gathered at the protest organised by the Pakistan Muslim League- Quaid (likeminded) at the Karachi Press Club, led by former senator Abdul Ghaffar Qureshi.
As they held up posters of Rahim, the protesters demanded that the government “end its policy of reconciliation” and said they would not give in to the government’s tactics to pressurise them.
Qureshi proclaimed that the “green flag of the Muslim League will once again rise over Sindh when it is in government”. He said that declaring Rahim’s seat vacant would have no impact because a “thousand Arbab Rahims will occupy those seats”. The people of Sindh backed Rahim and were against the assembly’s move, said Qureshi.
On Thursday, the Sindh Assembly voted to declare Rahim’s seat vacant on the grounds that he had been absent for 40 consecutive working days of the assembly.
A day before losing the fight to retain Rahim’s seat in the house, the party MPAs lost a case in the Sindh High Court which dismissed their plea for granting leave to Rahim. It will now follow a disqualification notification against Rahim by the Election Commission of Pakistan.
A complete strike was observed in Mithi, Deeplo, Islamkot and Nangarkar tehsils of Tharparker. Under the leadership of MNA Dr Ghulam Hyder Samejo, MPA Abdul Razaaq Rahimon and Arbab Lutfullah, a rally with thousands of participants was held in Mithi.
The people, mounted on buses, trucks, wagons, vans, jeeps and motorbikes, roamed around the city chanting slogans against the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). The rally concluded with a two-hour sit-in at the Kashmir Chowk.
“This decision has shocked the people of Thar who will continue to protest until Rahim’s restoration,” said Samejo. “We will challenge this undemocratic act in the Supreme Court.” Rahimon, amidst the chants of the crowd said, “PPP is nurturing a false hope that through such victimisation, they will win seats from Tharparkar”. In the 2008 general elections, the PML (likeminded) candidates swept all of the two national assembly and four Sindh assembly seats, except PS-62 which went to Sharjeel Inam Memon of the PPP. A protest rally was also organised at the Tando Bago tehsil of Badin district in several tehsils of Mirpurkhas and Umerkot districts.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 24th, 2012.
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