As the Provincial Assembly of Sindh (PA) starts its 15th term on Monday (today) with the swearing-in of the new legislators, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) appears to have strengthened its position in the House by securing 22 of the 38 seats reserved for women and religious minorities.
With the addition of the slots reserved for women and minorities, the total number of seats of the PPP in the provincial legislature has increased to 97. The total strength of the PA is 168, with 130 lawmakers who are elected directly by the voters and the remaining seats reserved for women and minorities: 29 for the former and nine for the latter.
With 97 legislators in the House belonging to the PPP, the party has more strength than a simple majority, which enables it to form the government in the province for a third consecutive term.
The PPP’s nominees are likely to have plain sailing in the legislature to win the upcoming elections for the leader of the House (chief minister) and the PA speaker and deputy speaker.
Of the 130 seats, election for one of them (Karachi’s District Malir) was postponed due to the death of a candidate, while the results of the race for two others (Mirpurkhas and Tharparkar) have been withheld.
As a result of the general elections held on July 25, the PPP won 75 general seats in the Sindh Assembly. Moreover, the party secured 17 of the 29 seats reserved for women as well as five of the nine slots reserved for minorities.
The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) is the second largest party in the new Sindh Assembly with 23 MPAs elected on the general seats. It has five lawmakers on the slots reserved for women and two on those reserved for minorities.
In third place is the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) with 16 legislators on the general seats, four on the slots reserved for women and one on a seat reserved for minorities.
Next is the Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) with 10 general seats, two lawmakers on the slots reserved for women and one on a seat reserved for minorities.
The Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) has two legislators on the general seats and one on a slot reserved for women. The Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) has secured only one general seat in the House.
The PPP’s legislators who have secured reserved seats for women are Syeda Shehla Raza, Shaheena Sher Ali, Rehana Leghari, Hina Dastagir, Sadia Javed, Nida Khuhro, Shazia Umar, Ghazala Sial, Shamim Mumtaz, Farhat Seemen, Tanzila Umme Habiba, Sajeela Leghari, Shahnaz Begum, Syeda Marvi Faseeh, Heer Soho, Kulsoom Akhtar Chandio and Parveen Bashir Qaimkhani.
The lawmakers of other parties who have bagged reserved seats for women are the PTI’s Sidra Imran, Dr Seema Zia, Rabia Azfar Nizami, Tahira and Adeeba Hassan; the MQM-P’s Mangla Sharma, Rana Ansar, Shahana Ashar and Rabia Khatoon; the GDA’s Nusrat Sehar Abbasi and Naseem; and the TLP’s Sarwat Fatima.
The PPP’s legislators who have secured reserved seats for minorities are Hamir Singh, Mukesh Kumar Chawla, Dr Lal Chand Ukrani, Anthony Naveed and Sadhumal Surendar Valasai.
The lawmakers of other parties who have bagged reserved seats for minorities are the PTI’s Sanjay Gangwani and Sachanand, the MQM-P’s Sanjay Perwani and the GDA’s Nand Kumar Goklani. Being the second largest party in the House, the PTI is likely to clinch the coveted position of the PA opposition leader.
The News has learnt that Agha Siraj Khan Durrani is all set to become the speaker of the House for a second consecutive term, and that he would administer the oath of office to the new MPAs on Monday.
Durrani currently holds the additional charge of Sindh governor since Mohammad Zubair resigned as the last full-time governor of the province after the previous month’s polls. The PPP has nominated the party’s MPA-elect Rehana Leghari to become the deputy speaker of the House.
The PTI, which is all set to form the upcoming federal government, has nominated one of its founding members based in Karachi, Imran Ismail, as the next governor of the province. He has also been elected an MPA from the provincial assembly constituency PS-111 (South-V). However, he is unlikely to be sworn in on Monday after his nomination as the next Sindh governor.
Sindh Assembly Secretary GM Umer Farooq told The News that Durrani would chair the PA’s inaugural session on Monday, as he is the full-time speaker of the House first and then the acting governor. Farooq said there is no legal hitch for him to chair the PA sitting.