KARACHI, Feb 18: Nomination of the leader of the opposition in the Sindh Assembly, which was expected on Monday, was delayed for a few more days after the Muttahida Qaumi Movement formally applied with signatures of its 51 lawmakers for allotment of seats on the opposition benches.

The Sindh High Court disposing of a petition of the Pakistan Muslim League-Functional last Saturday had given 10 days to the speaker to announce the nomination of leader of the opposition.

Jam Madad Ali, who is parliamentary party leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-Functional, termed the delay an insult of the court decision and said the party would again take up the matter to the judiciary after legal consultation.

He was of the opinion that the announcement of the leader of the opposition was put off under a conspiracy that he said exposed Pakistan People’s Party malice.

“At present the only application for the slot of the leader of the opposition with the assembly secretariat is our request, as the MQM applied today for the opposition benches,” said Mr Ali while speaking to the media in his chamber.

The PML-F leader appealed to Muttahida Qaumi Movement chief Altaf Hussain and his party lawmakers to support the PML-F nominee, Nusrat Seher Abbasi, so that a strong opposition was formed and the allegation against them could be dispelled.

In reply to a question, he said that the PML-F had a right to lay a claim to the slot of the leader of the opposition as it had remained in opposition for more than any other party in the assembly.

Speaker Nisar Ahmad Khuhro said that the MQM had applied for opposition benches and according to the constitutional spirit only such person could become the leader of the opposition who had support of more members of the opposition.

Mr Khuhro, who was speaking to a group of journalists after meeting Jam Madad Ali and other lawmakers in the committee room, said he had issued notices last Friday to the 10 members who had signed the application for Ms Abbasi’s nomination as leader of the opposition requesting them to appear before him. But before the meeting, an application with signatures of 51 MQM legislators seeking opposition benches was filed, he said.

Now when the total strength of opposition members in the house was around 70, he said, explaining that in this situation he could not take any decision on the application signed by only 10 lawmakers. He would have to wait for two to three days so that it could be determined who enjoyed support of most legislators in the opposition, he added.

When his attention was drawn towards an inordinate delay in nomination of the leader of the opposition, Mr Khuhro said the delay was on the part of the PML-F as at a time when their petition was in the court, no decision could be taken on the matter.

The speaker recalled that the court disposed of the petition on Feb 7 and asked the assembly to appoint the leader of the opposition within the next 10 days. But now due to change in the situation, the announcement of the leader of opposition could take two to three days more, he explained.

In reply to a question, he said he had not yet received any application from the MQM for leader of the opposition. On Wednesday, he added, they would be allotted seats on the opposition benches after which a final decision would be taken about leader of the opposition.

Earlier, all MQM lawmakers converged at their party chamber and after attending a meeting, chaired by parliamentary party leader Syed Sardar Ahmad, filed their application for opposition benches with the assembly secretariat. Later they handed over another application on the subject to the speaker.

Mr Ahmad told the media that they had announced their decision to sit on the opposition benches in the provincial assembly and the parliament on Feb 16. “Today we applied for the seats with signatures of our all MPAs, as now the MQM will play a strong role in opposition in accordance with the constitution, represent aspirations and strive to get the people of Sindh their due rights in a democratic manner,” he added.

He said that their ministers had submitted their resignation to the governor a day ago and returned official vehicles and facilities on Monday.

In reply to a question, Mr Ahmad said they had not taken any decision so far about the leader of the opposition as it would be decided by the party. He added that they had communicated their party decision to the PML-F on Sunday night.

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