KARACHI / BADIN: Former speaker of the National Assembly Fehmida Mirza, along with her husband Zulfiqar Mirza, on Sunday announced that they were dissociating with the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and joining the Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA).
“(The) Peoples Party has done nothing whatever it had promised in its manifesto,” she claimed at a press conference at her residence, flanked by the Pir Pagara and her husband.
GDA is an election coalition of various political parties and individuals of Sindh, which was formally formed last year with its key focus to contest against the PPP.
The two disgruntled politicians of the PPP made the decision to be part of the GDA after their recent meeting with Syed Shah Mardan Shah (Pir Pagara).
Ms Mirza, who had been a PPP member of the National Assembly till it completed its term on May 31, slammed the party’s performance in the province, which it ruled for a decade, saying that it had done nothing that could provide relief to the millions of its constituents.
She went on to say, “I don’t think there is anything that is named PPP now.”
Ms Mirza, who was the first and so far only female speaker of the National Assembly in the country’s 70-year history, said their decision to join the GDA was made to make a united effort to solve the longstanding problems of Sindh.
She said she had been raising voice for the real issues in parliament and after those years she got back to the people again and made a decision for the greater public good.
She claimed that a recent public meeting in which she along with her husband had featured “was a people’s referendum (against the PPP)”.
“It is hugely important to be part of this alliance, as we all should gather on a united and organised platform.”
Regarding controversy over the carving out of another province from Sindh, Ms Mirza firmly said: “Sindh has historically been a single entity through the millennia and will remain so.”
She deplored the overall conditions and ‘pathetic development’ profile in Sindh, adding that there was a lack of clean water and quality education in the province.
She criticised the PPP’s rule in Sindh for the past two terms and claimed that the local government ministry was infested with ‘rampant corruption’ and there was a real need of ‘education emergency’ in the province. Besides, “a non-politicised police is hugely important”.
“We will have to end the rampant corruption. We’ll have to rescue Sindh from the clutches of mafias. We invite all to come forward to save Sindh,” she said.
She urged the people not to go after personalities, but vote for those whose politics was based on genuine issues and were serving the people.
Ms Mirza said it was Election Commission’s responsibility to ensure transparent and fair elections.
GDA leader Pir Pagara said Ms Mirza joined the GDA because she had similar views on the issues relating to Sindh as the rest of the electoral alliance.
“We too want to see an educated Sindh and better law and order situation here,” he added.
He said it would be better to see general elections were held as per their schedule.
The GDA would go further at the national level after getting success in Sindh, he said. “We’ll extend our message beyond Sindh across the country to broaden scope of the GDA.
Zulfiqar Mirza, a home minister during the first tenure of the PPP government in Sindh, said it took time to convince his spouse to join the GDA.
“GDA is our ultimate destination,” he said, adding that “even Bilawal Bhutto comes our way we’ll ask him to join the GDA”.
He said Badin district, where he had established his constituency, was made so impoverished and water deficient that “there is no water for drinking and bathing the dead”.
The Mirzas announced on Sunday that they would contest election from the GDA platform from Badin district.
They had arrived in Badin in early 90s after establishing sugar mills near Pangrio and Kadhan towns.
They joined active politics in 1990. Dr Mirza contested election from NA-172 (now NA-230) on a PPP ticket against late Murtaza Bhutto and won.
After the PPP government was toppled in 1993, Dr Mirza went underground to avoid arrest on a number of charges, including murder. He remained an absconder from the law for 10 years.
During Dr Mirza’s absence, Fehmida Mirza contested election on a PPP ticket and defeated Syed Pappu Shah from the same constituency by a thin margin.
Ms Mirza defeated Bibi Yasmin in the last general elections and became the third woman after Benazir Bhutto and Begum Nusrat Bhutto to have been elected to a general seat for four connective terms.
Published in Dawn, June 4th, 2018