Leader of opposition in Sindh PA: MQM picks ‘harmless’ candidate
KARACHI, Feb 22: The Muttahida Qaumi Movement picked a soft-spoken Syed Sardar Ahmad when on Friday it nominated him as its candidate for the leader of the opposition in the Sindh Assembly, lending credence to reports that despite outward displays of animosity both the MQM and the Pakistan People’s Party are on the same page as far the trouble-free installation of a caretaker set-up in the province is concerned.
Mr Ahmed, an over 79-year-old bureaucrat-turned-politician, is the parliamentary party leader of the MQM in the Sindh Assembly and was among a few MQM lawmakers whose names were under consideration by their party for nomination as leader of the opposition.
The provincial chief executive has to consult the leader of the opposition in the Sindh Assembly before introducing a caretaker set-up in the province and if Mr Ahmed, widely considered a dove and not a hawk, is formally appointed opposition leader he would have to sit with Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah, a PPP nominee, to finalise a caretaker government with a consensus.
An MQM application addressed to Speaker Nisar Ahmad Khuhro and submitted to the assembly secretariat stated: “In continuation of our letter dated 18th February 2013 for the allocation of seats to the members of MQM to discharge their duties as members of the opposition, it has further been decided by the party to nominate Syed Sardar Ahmad, PS-116 as leader of Opposition”.
“Needless to state that the MQM is the second largest party in the assembly having 50 MPAs and has already decided to sit on opposition benches, hence this request,” it added.
The signatories included deputy parliamentary party leader Syed Faisal Sabzwari, Dr Sagheer Ahmad and others.
The Pakistan Muslim League-Functional had nominated Nusrat Seher Abbasi as a candidate for the slot of the opposition leader and also sought the MQM’s support to back its candidate after the latter announced parting of the ways with the PPP.
Speaking to Dawn, Ms Abbasi said that she and her colleague would not support Mr Ahmed’s candidature as the leader of the opposition. “We have asked them (the MQM) to support my candidature purely on moral grounds as our application has been pending with the speaker for the past two months.”
She said that the purpose of asking the MQM to support her candidature was to assess whether the party had genuinely parted ways with the government or not. However, the nomination of their own candidate only proved Pir Pagara’s prediction at a public meeting in Hyderabad in December last year that the MQM would join opposition benches to help the PPP finalise a caretaker set-up, she added.
Ms Abbasi believed that the Sindh People’s Local Government Act, 2012 was withdrawn with a tacit understanding between the PPP and the MQM.
She recalled that the MQM lodged a somewhat mild protest when the bill to withdraw the SPLGA was tabled in the house during the Thursday sitting.
“Last time when a bill to introduce the commissioner system was tabled in the assembly the MQM had not only created uproar and disturbance in the house but had also broken many mikes and had thrown copies of the bill after tearing them up on the floor before staging a walk-out. Besides, MQM chief Altaf Hussain had also threatened the PPP that by abolishing the local government system of 2001 Urdu-speaking people were being pushed to demand a division of Sindh.”
However, no such thing happened after Thursday’s proceedings, she added.
In reply to a question, Ms Abbasi said that the PML-F and its allied parties, the PML-N, the Jamaat-i-Islami, the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam, nationalist parties and the Sindh Bachayo Committee would soon hold their meeting to formulate a joint strategy.
She said that their allies would decide their next step after a scheduled meeting between Pir Pagara and PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif.