Coalition resignation: After nearly six weeks, fate of ‘opposition members’ still hangs in the balance

The legislators had resigned in protest against the new system of local government.

Hafeez Tunio October 27, 2012

KARACHI: More than a month later, the former coalition parties can neither call themselves a part of the government nor the opposition. Their resignations have yet to be accepted by the chief minister or the governor - if they can decide who has to decide.

Within a few days after the Pakistan Peoples Party-led Sindh government issued the Sindh Peoples Local Government Ordinance on September 7, the Sindh Assembly members belonging to Awami National Party (ANP), National Peoples Party (NPP) and Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) and Pir Pagara-led Pakistan Muslim League-Functional (PML-F) had resigned as ministers.

Since then, the former ministers, who now claim to be the “real” opposition, have been running from pillar to post to have their resignations accepted.

With each passing day, differences between government and opposition are deepening over the new system of local government. The PML-F members have even decided to knock on the doors of the judiciary after Eidul Azha if the government does not respond to their resignation.

“We have submitted our handwritten resignation to the governor and the chief minister both,” said Jam Madad Ali, the PML-F’s parliamentary leader in Sindh Assembly. “When we go to Chief Minister House, they refer us to Governor House. The officials at Governor House ask us to wait as our resignations have been sent to the chief minister for his opinion.”

Jam Madad Ali and four of his party members were a part of the Sindh cabinet since the PML-F joined the coalition government last year. “We have told the government a number of times that we will not return to its fold,” he said. “I don’t understand why they are delaying the matter.” Apart from him, the fate of ministers Rafique Banbhan, Imtiaz Shaikh, and Nasir Khan Nizamani, also lies in the balance.

The government is still trying to bring PML-F back into the fold and that is the reason the resignations of its members have not been accepted, officials privy to the development told The Express Tribune.

The “so-called opposition members” are still enjoying all perks and privileges provided by the government but are also criticising it, said PPP’s education minister Pir Mazhar. “They should first [at least] surrender all government benefits before doing opposition politics.”

Jam Madad Ali clarified, however, that the party members have surrendered all government benefits and handed over their official vehicles too. “As per government record, we are still ministers so the salaries are deposited to our accounts. We have not drawn the salary and will return the same to government accounts,” he replied when asked about salaries and other allowances.

The constitution defines no specific time period to decide on resignations, Ghulam Nabi Shah, the law secretary, told The Express Tribune.

Under Article 132(3), ministers have to submit their handwritten applications to the governor who has the authority to accept or reject their resignations. “If the government wants, he [governor] can give the decision within 24 hours,” the law secretary added.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 27th, 2012.


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