Holding on to their seats… not


The Sindh Assembly (SA) witnessed a change in the seating arrangements of the political parties for the first time on Friday in around three-and-a-half years. The lawmakers belonging to the Pakistan Muslim League-Functional (PML-F) and Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) replaced the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) members on the treasury benches close to the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Members of the Provincial Assembly (MPAs).
The MQM members were allotted seats on the left side of the SA speaker’s podium where the opposition members are usually seated, but the MQM members sat there without the status of opposition. Despite the fact that the MQM’s parliamentary party had nominated Raza Haroon as the opposition leader, Haroon could not use the seat where the opposition leader usually sits because his resignation as the information minister is still on hold. Former opposition leader Jam Madad Ali sat in the front row because his party, the PML-F, is now a part of the government after the MQM left the coalition.
The PML-F and PML-Q members sat on the treasury benches, including Nusrat Saher Abbasi who had been very critical of the PPP during her speeches in the House while she sat on the opposition benches; however, she was observed to be silent now. The SA Secretariat also changed the seats of those belonging to the Arbab Rahim group of the PML-Q, who are still a part of the opposition. They sat in the back row behind the MQM members. The total number of the members of the Arbab Rahim group was five, but one female member – Nuzhat Pathan – has joined the treasury benches along with other PML-Q members. Even though MQM’s Dr Ishratul Ebad Khan has resumed his duties as the Sindh governor, no decision has been made about the MQM members’ resignations. “Seat No 2 (opposition leader’s seat) is vacant,” announced SA Speaker Nisar Ahmed Khuhro in response to a query made by MQM’s Dr Sagheer Ahmed. Khuhro told Ahmed that no decision has been taken regarding the ministers belonging to the MQM; therefore, Haroon could not be offered Seat No 2. Consequently, the opposition leader’s seat remained vacant until the end of the SA session.
Friday was the last day of the current SA session as Khuhro prorogued it by reading the prorogation order issued by the governor.