PTI MPA Khurrum Sher Zaman also in the run; MQM to boycott vote, PML-N abstains
Sindh is all set to elect its new chief executive today, with Syed Murad Ali Shah, the nominated candidate of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party, certain of an easy win in a provincial assembly vote being boycotted by the Muttahida Qaumi Movement.
Shah, who until the resignation of Qaim Ali Shah as chief minster on Wednesday was working as senior minister for finance, has only one rival candidate from the opposition benches, i.e. MPA Khurrum Sher Zaman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf.
The PPP, which has taken a lot of flak for its poor show of governance in the province, has replaced octogenarian Shah with a relatively young leader as part of a campaign to ready itself for the 2018 general election.
Friday’s contest is sure to become a one-sided affair given the statistics of lawmakers in the house being highly in favour of the PPP. The provincial assembly session has been summoned by the governor at 3pm to elect the new chief minister.
The legislature comprises 168 members, but at present there are 165 MPAs as three seats are vacant.
The PPP has 91 members, a number big enough to give Murad Ali Shah a comfortable majority to win and form a cabinet of choice.
Only three lawmakers of the party are not likely to turn up to take part in the polling, i.e. Sharjeel Inam Memon, Syed Owais Muzaffar and Barrister Hasnain Mirza. The first two has been out of the country while Hasnain Mirza has not been reportedly approached by the parliamentary leadership of the PPP to vote owing to a row between the party and his father and former home minister Dr Zulfiqar Mirza.
Another senior MPA, Ali Nawaz Shah, could also abstain from the voting process owing to his reported ill health.
PTI candidate Khurrum Sher Zaman has no chance to sail through the election with his party having only four lawmakers in the house. And of these four, only three would cast their votes because MPA Syed Hafeezuddin had announced his quitting the party and resigning as MPA to join Mustafa Kamal-led Pak Sarzameen Party. His resignation is yet to be accepted.
PTA lawmaker Samar Ali Khan signed Zaman’s nomination papers as proposer of his candidature, while the only female lawmaker of the opposition party in the house, Dr Seema Zia, seconded the papers.
Of the total 168 votes, Murad Ali Shah is likely to easily get 85. The house will elect the new leader of the house through the open system of polling instead of using the secret ballot process as either the house members would cast their votes through a show of hands or by taking part in the process of division of the house for conducting the polls.
There are four candidates in the field -- Murad Ali Shah and Khurrum Sher Zaman, Dr Sikandar Ali Mandhro and Jam Mehtab Dahar.
Mandhro and Dahar are both from the ruling PPP. Mandhro, who was the environment minister until the resignation of Shah as chief minister, and Mehtab Dahar was the health minister in the just-dissolved cabinet, are considered to be two covering candidates for the main PPP contender, Murad Ali Shah. Both covering candidate are likely to announce withdrawal of their candidature anytime on Friday before the start of the polling process in the house.
Speaker Sindh Assembly Agha Siraj Durrani told newsmen on Thursday evening before the display of the final list of candidates that the assembly secretariat had received all the seven nomination papers for the election and all were found to be in order.
Of the seven nomination papers, four belonged to Murad Ali Shah, while one set of nomination papers each belonged to PTI’s Khurrum Sher Zaman and PPP’s Jam Mehtab Dahar and Dr Sikandar Mandhro.
Qaim Ali Shah was the proposer while Nisar Ahmed Khuhro, who was also a senior minister in the dissolved cabinet, seconded the nomination papers of Murad Ali Shah.
The process of issuance and receiving the nomination papers in the office of the secretary of the provincial assembly continued from 9am till 5pm on Thursday. The final list of candidates was displayed after 7pm after due process of scrutiny of the nomination papers of all the candidates in the field.
Syed Sardar Ahmed, the parliamentary party of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, the main opposition party of the province, has decided not to take part in the process to elect the new CM. The MQM with 50 lawmakers in the house is the main opposition party with MPA Khawaja Izharul Hassan as leader of opposition.
The parliamentary leadership of the opposition announced on Thursday that the party’s lawmakers would remain neutral as they would neither support nor oppose the election of Murad Ali Shah as the new chief executive.
The MQM’s parliamentary leader and the leader of opposition said that earlier their party had supported the candidature of Qaim Ali Shah to become chief executive for the second consecutive time, but that decision didn’t augur well for the urban areas of the province.
Ahmed said that the PPP’s continued rule in the province had caused the division between the rural and urban parts of Sindh to widen. They said the ruling party had been in the practice of make decisions by using its majority in the house in a brute and cruel manner, which didn’t augur well for the dwellers of the province.
He said that with Murad Ali Shah becoming the new CM of Sindh, the PPP would continue with its rule replete with bad governance.
One of the other opposition parties in the house, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, also announced it would not support the PPP candidate.
“After deep deliberation and discussion it was decided that the PML-N will participate in the election proceedings of the Sindh Assembly which is to be held tomorrow. But the PML-N will not support the candidate of the Pakistan Peoples Party for the election of leader of the house because we believe that the PPP government who has been ruling over Sindh for the last eight years only promotes corruption, bad governance, nepotism, favouritism, etc,” said a statement issued by Muhammad Ismail Rahoo, who is the parliamentary leader of the PML-N in the house.
A similar stance is likely to be taken by another opposition party, PML –Functional, whose 11 lawmakers in the house will neither support nor oppose the candidature of Murad Ali Shah.
Soon after the decision of a top-level meeting of the PPP in Dubai on July 24 to bring a new CM in Sindh, Murad Ali Shah and other lawmakers of the party met in Dubai with PML-F chief Pir Pagara to get his blessings for his nomination by the ruling party to become chief minister.
Earlier, TV news channels reported that efforts had been made by the PPP leadership to persuade the PTI not to field its candidate for the CM’s poll so as to enable Shah to become chief minister unopposed. But the PTI snubbed all such efforts.
Later, talking to journalists, CM-designate Shah said that as such there was no concept of getting elected CM unopposed as in case there was no other contesting candidate in the field, the loner contender had to secure a vote of confidence from the assembly, showing that he commanded a majority in the house.
He said that after getting elected he would deliver a speech in the assembly to present in detail his policy statement about how he would govern the province. Regarding the controversial issue of extending the special policing powers of the Sindh Rangers in Karachi, Shah said the stabilisation of peace in Karachi was the need of the hour and everyone would made efforts for achieving that goal, but for this cause civilian institutions had to be strengthened.
He said that the Rangers would be delegated powers in accordance with law and the constitution. He said that no negotiations had been under way to persuade the MQM to become part of any coalition set-up in the province.
PTI lawmaker Khurrum Sher Zaman said that he was in the field to end the chapter of politics of compromising on principles in the province for the sake of the welfare of the citizens of Sindh.
He said he was hopeful to get support from the lawmakers of other political parties in the house too for the sake of closing the chapter of politics of making compromises on the rule of law. He said that once elected by the house to become the new chief executive of the province, he would immediately issue a decree to extend the special policing powers of the Rangers to all of the province before taking other steps for the welfare and development of the province.
Order for Rauf
The Sindh Assembly speaker has written a letter to the inspector-general of police and the prisons department to bring the imprisoned MQM MPA, Abdul Rauf Siddiqui, to the assembly so he could take part in the polling process.
Earlier, MQM parliamentary leader Syed Sardar Ahmed had written a letter to the speaker, containing a request for issuing orders Siddiqui be allowed to cast his vote.
Talking to media persons, the speaker said that all legal formalities were being fulfilled for conducting the polls in the house for electing the new CM.
At a press conference held at Khursheed Memorial Hall on Thursday night, MQM Rabita Committee members announced their party’s decision to boycott Friday’s vote.
Rabita Committee member Shahid Pasha said that the MQM was compelled to boycott the election of CM as the PPP was supporting law enforcement agencies.
He said an unannounced ban had been imposed on the political activities of the MQM.
Pasha said the MQM was the fourth largest party of the country and it was being pushed to the wall. He added that the MQM would continue its peaceful struggle despite all atrocities and injustices.
The Rabita Committee asked how the Rangers were conducting raids on the offices of the MQM when they did not have powers to made arrests and conduct raids. .
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