Following its decision to part ways with the ruling coalition, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) submitted an application on Monday seeking opposition seats in the Sindh Assembly. But this has yet to be accepted. Also, it appears their proposed alliance with the Pakistan Muslim-League Functional (PML-F) was short lived with the two parties disagreeing over who would be appointed as opposition leader.
Party sources say that the MQM has decided to nominate Sabzwari as opposition leader. MQM leaders said that the Sindh governor has also accepted the resignations of their ministers and they would sit on opposition benches in the session, which will resume on Wednesday.
An MQM delegation called on Sindh Assembly Speaker Nisar Ahmed Khuhro and submitted an application for opposition benches on Monday. “We have resigned from the ministries and want to sit on the opposition benches because we no longer want to be part of a government that supports gangsters and extortionists in Karachi,” said Sabzwari.
Later, speaking to the media, Khuhro said that MQM leaders had submitted the application with the signatures of around 51 lawmakers and were seeking opposition seats.
Referring to the rules of the provincial assembly, Khuhro said that MQM ministers had tendered their resignation to the Sindh governor and he was waiting for those resignations to be accepted before allotting the seats to them.
Deciding on an opposition leader
Khuhro rejected the PML-F’s demand to name PML-F candidate, Nusrat Sehar Abbasi as opposition leader. The speaker said the situation changed with the application of the MQM members who hold a majority over the PML-F. “The PML-F has the support of 10 members and the strength of the MQM stands at 51.”
Khuhro maintained that he had not refused the allotment of an opposition seat to a PML-F candidate, adding that he was reviewing the procedure when the opposition went to the Sindh High Court and challenged the decision, which, he contended, has delayed the process of nominating an opposition leader. The 10-day deadline given by the court to Sindh Assembly speaker for the nomination of an opposition leader expired on Monday.
In response, PML-F’s Abbasi criticised the MQM. “When they came to meet us, we knew that there were 70% chances of this happening. We knew that the MQM would snatch this position from us,” claimed Abbasi. She said that if the MQM did not follow the PML-F’s demand, “they should expect no consensus or support.”
Published in The Express Tribune, February 19th, 2013.
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