The three main opposition parties in the Sindh Assembly that are also coalition partners in the federal government – the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) and the Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) – will announce on Monday (today) whether or not they will take part in the elections for the provincial assembly’s standing committees to be held on March 20.
The PTI, MQM-P and GDA have been at loggerheads with the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) over the coveted post of the chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the Sindh Assembly. As the government did not accept their demand that the PAC chairmanship be given to the opposition, the three parties resorted to protests inside and outside the House during its ongoing session.
The nomination forms for the standing committees polls will be issued and received today at the assembly’s secretariat. The three main opposition parties on Sunday continued their consultations to decide whether to participate in the polls or not at the Karachi residence of GDA leader Pir Sadaruddin Shah Rashdi.
Talking to media persons after the consultation session, the leader of the opposition in the Sindh Assembly, Firdous Shamim Naqvi, who belongs to the PTI, said the current session of the Sindh Assembly had been continuing since early January this year without any valid reason just for fulfilling interests of the ruling PPP.
Naqvi said the opposition in the PA would continue insisting on the chairmanship of PAC just like the opposition in the National Assembly demanded its PAC chairmanship and succeeded after which the chairman of the National Assembly’s PAC was now its opposition leader, Shehbaz Sharif.
MQM-P lawmaker Muhammad Hussain Khan said the opposition in the PA was united and it would continue its efforts to resolve the issues of the people of Sindh. Members of the provincial cabinet and other PPP lawmakers have stated multiple times in the recent past that the provincial government offered the chairmanship of 14 out of 34 PA standing committees to the opposition.
They said the government had further offered that eight of those 14 Standing Committees would be of the choice of the opposition itself. Moreover, those 14 committees would also be constituted in such a way that a majority of their members were from the opposition and this would have been done for the first time in the PA’s history after relaxing its rules of procedure.
Regarding the opposition’s demand for the PAC chairmanship, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah stated in the house that the PPP was willing to approve the demand on condition that the PTI sign the Charter of Democracy.
Discussing the deadlock over the standing committees’ constitution with media persons on Thursday, Adviser to the CM on Information and Law Barrister Murtaza Wahab said the provincial government had finally decided to go for polls to constitute the standing committees as its seven-month efforts to reach an understanding with the opposition on this issue had borne no fruit.
When the information adviser was asked if members of the opposition parties, in case no understanding was reached, would get the chairmanship of any committee as they lacked a majority in the House, the adviser commented that it was a point, which should better be pondered by the opposition benches as they would all emerge as losers after the polls due to their unwise policy to stick to their unjust demands.
He claimed that the provincial government had shown extraordinary magnanimity on the issue by offering to the opposition the chairmanship of 14 out of the total 34 standing committees that were to be formed.
The information adviser went on to say that this time, the government had even offered the chairmanship of such standing committees to the opposition, which had never been given to the opposition before as they were related to important sectors of governance. For instance, he said, the standing committee on the local government department was offered to the opposition for the first time.