The Pakistan Muslim League-Functional (PML-F) and National Peoples Party (NPP) have applied to sit on the opposition seats in Sindh Assembly. They left the coalition government to oppose the new local government ordinance.
The new opposition is not likely to be able to block legislation as it only amounts to 16 members in a house of 167. The PPP and MQM have enough numbers to win by majority any day. On Thursday, around one dozen MPAs, led by Jam Madad Ali (PML-F), reached the Sindh Assembly and submitted their applications at the office of Deputy Speaker Shehla Raza. They included eight PML-F members, three NPP members and one from the PML-Q. The four-member PML-Q (Likeminded) group, that is headed by Dr Arbab Ghulam Rahim, accompanied them.
The deputy speaker told them, however, that their resignations had actually not been accepted by the chief minister. “We have resigned and will no longer sit on the treasury benches,” Jam Madad replied. “Our members will go to court if government the fails to allot them opposition seats.”
Jam Madad, who resigned as science and technology minister, reiterated their grievance that the new local government system was divisive of Sindh’s urban and rural area.
The request to form the opposition has come from Nusrat Seher Abbasi, Rana Sattar, Marvi Rashdi, Ali Ghulam Nizamani, Dr Rafique Banbhan of the PML-F, Arif Mustafa Jatoi, Masoor Jatoi and Abdi Jatoi of the NPP, Shaharyar Mahar of the PML-Q. After the PML-F and NPP announced they were quitting the ruling coalition over the new ordinance, President Asif Zardari and the PPP in Sindh tried to woo them back. But the PML-F’s chief Pir Pagara remained adamant that they would not budge. The PML-F’s Imtiaz Shaikh said they would only consider returning to the ruling coalition if the PPP reversed its decision on the local government ordinance. This is highly unlikely as this would considerably anger the MQM, a key coalition partner with a good strength in the house.
History of this government’s opposition
When the PPP-led government came to power, the PML-F and PML-Q decided to form the opposition. Jam Madad Ali became the opposition leader. But then these parties cross the floor and joined the PPP as coalition partners last year, leaving a moth-eaten opposition in its wake. Only four members of the PML-Q (Likeminded) remained on the opposition benches.
They have made several attempts to make Arbab the leader of the opposition in the house.
The next step will be nominating an opposition leader in Sindh. Dr Arbab Ghulam Rahim, a former chief minister, has made no bones about his desire to hold the slot. Jam Madad Ali and Arbab Ghulam Rahim are potential candidates.
On the other hand, the PML-Q (Chaudhry bothers) has said that the decision to resign made by its MPA Shaharyar Mahar was not party policy. “We are still a coalition partner of the PPP in the federal and provincial governments. It is Mahar’s personal decision. The party has nothing to do with it,” Haleem Adil Sheikh, the general secretary of the party in Sindh, clarified.
Awami National Party (ANP) has also announced that in reaction to the new local government system, its parliamentarians will sit in opposition seats from Friday. The party’s Sindh president, Senator Shahi Syed, has asked ANP MPA Ameer Nawab Khan to submit an application for a seat in the opposition bench.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 28th, 2012.