KARACHI: A day after some parties led by the Pakistan Muslim League-Functional applied to sit on the opposition benches in Sindh Assembly, another coalition partner – the Awami National Party (ANP) – did the same on Friday.
The parties are upset over the new system of local government agreed upon between the Pakistan Peoples Party and its major ally Muttahida Qaumi Movement and have left the coalition in protest. The move is, however, not likely to affect the ruling party which still enjoys a huge majority in the 167-member provincial legislature thanks to the MQM.
On Friday, ANP’s parliamentary leader in the Sindh Assembly, Ameer Nawab, who had been working as the provincial labour minister for the past four years, submitted his own application and another one from his party colleague, Amanullah Mehsud, at the assembly secretariat.
Since the Sindh Assembly speaker, deputy speaker or the secretary were not present, the ANP leader submitted the applications to the secretariat staff.
Speaking to the press later, Nawab said that he had resigned earlier and now wanted to sit on opposition benches. “This is not my personal decision, but the party has directed me to apply for the opposition benches,” he said.
The Sindh Peoples Local Government Ordinance was passed without taking in confidence the ANP, which was an important coalition partner in Sindh and the Centre, Nawab said. “Until our reservations over the newly signed ordinance are addressed, we would continue to protest and not become a part of the government.”
As an ally of the PPP-led coalition government, the ANP had supported the government through thick and thin but the ruling party did not bother to consider their reservations over the local government system, the ANP leader alleged. “On the opposition benches, we would support the democratic process and continue to raise our voice for the rights of the people of Sindh.”
It would be premature to comment whether the ANP would return to the Sindh government, he added.
On Thursday, around 12 members of the Pakistan Muslim League-Functional, National Peoples Party, and Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid had applied to sit on opposition benches in the Sindh Assembly, joining the four-member breakaway faction of Arbab Ghulam Rahim. With the inclusion of two ANP members, the strength of opposition would stand at 18.
The provincial government has also not yet allotted opposition seats to the unhappy coalition partners. President Asif Ali Zardari has directed the Sindh chief minister Sindh, Qaim Ali Shah, to approach them to reconsider their decision. But PML-F and NPP are now adamant to play opposition politics, according to party leaders.
With additional input from PPI.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 29th, 2012.