KARACHI: Muttahida Qaumi Movement legislator Khawaja Izhar-ul-Hassan was appointed leader of the opposition in the Sindh Assembly on Wednesday.
In less than two years to the May 2013 general election, Mr Hassan is the third opposition leader, and second from the MQM, the current Sindh Assembly has.
Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani issued a notification after the outgoing leader of the opposition, Shahryar Khan Mahar of the Pakistan Muslim League-Functional, sent in his resignation stating that the MQM, being the majority party, had decided to have its own opposition leader and, therefore, he was tendering his resignation as per democratic practices to vacate the office for the MQM’s nominee.
“On request of 44 members of the provincial assembly of Sindh, the speaker, in accordance of the provisions of sub-rule (3) of Rule 25 of Rules of Procedure of the Provincial Assembly of Sindh, has been pleased to declare Khawaja Izhar-ul-Hassan as leader of opposition with effect from April 29, 2015,” said the official notification issued by the assembly secretary G.M. Umar Farooq.
“He is entitled to the salary, allowance and privileges as are admissible to a provincial minister under the Sindh Ministers (salaries, allowances and privileges) Act, 1975.”
Mr Mahar was appointed opposition leader on June 11, 2014. Before him, the MQM’s Syed Faisal Subzwari was leading the opposition until April 22, 2014 when his party joined the treasury benches and became a coalition partner of the Pakistan Peoples Party.
The new opposition leader is a long-time MQM worker. His association with the MQM began in 1988 when he joined the All Pakistan Mohajir Students Organisation — the student wing of the MQM — in St Patrick’s College.
He completed his MBA degree from a private institute in the metropolis and went to Malaysia in 1996 for job. He spent three years there and returned to the country to start his own business.
The MQM gave him a party ticket for the 2008 general election from PS-99, a provincial assembly constituency comprising areas of North and New Karachi, and also retained him in the 2013 general election.
Mr Hassan, 43, was a provincial minister during the previous Qaim Ali Shah-led Sindh cabinet.
He was made the MQM’s deputy parliamentary party leader in the Sindh Assembly after the 2013 general election.
Besides the MQM, he would, as the leader of the opposition, represent the PML-Functional, PML-Nawaz, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and the National Peoples Party.
Meanwhile, Mr Mahar told Dawn that MQM parliamentary party leader Syed Sardar Ahmad phoned him on Wednesday and conveyed his party’s decision to nominate Mr Hassan as the leader of the opposition.
He said he sent in his resignation after consulting his party leadership.
He said in view of the attitude of the ruling PPP towards smaller opposition parties as well as the MQM, it appeared that MQM chief Altaf Hussain had finally made up his mind to play the role of a real opposition.
Published in Dawn, April 30th, 2015