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KARACHI: With the three major opposition parties in the Sindh Assembly boycotting the election process for the Public Accounts Committee and 21 standing committees, lawmakers who had filed their nomination papers were on Tuesday declared elected unopposed.

Voting was scheduled for Wednesday, but Sindh Assembly Secretary G.M. Umar Farooq issued a notification on Tuesday evening stating that his office had received nominations for “only 22 committees” and the number of candidates was “equal to the number of vacancies to be filled”.

“The candidates were declared elected,” reads the notification.

Members of the treasury benches and four members of two minor opposition parties — Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan and Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal — had filed nominations for the PAC and 21 out of total 34 standing committees and they had been elected unopposed.

The assembly’s secretariat said the election schedule for the remaining committees would be announced later.

All seven members of the PAC — Ghulam Qadir Chandio, Faryal Talpur, Sharjeel Memon, Qasim Soomro, Karim Soomro, Farrukh Shah and Ghanwer Isran — belong to the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party.

A finance committee of the house was also formed with Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani as its chairman with minister for finance and seven others, including opposition MMA’s Abdul Rasheed, as its members.

Other standing committees pertain to finance; energy; transport and mass transit; services, general administration and coordination; planning, development and special initiatives; revenue, land utilisation, relief and rehabilitation; school education; law and parliamentary affairs and human rights; irrigation; labour and human resources; information and archives; local government, rural development, public health engineering and housing, town planning; home; primary and secondary health; food; forest, wildlife and environment; higher, technical education and research, school education and special education; cooperatives; works and services; and agriculture.

A provincial government spokesman had already announced a day earlier that election for the remaining 13 standing committees would be held later — a move to accommodate the members of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan and the Grand Democratic Alliance which had boycotted the entire exercise.

The three parties have formed a combined opposition alliance that has been protesting against the government’s refusal to give the top slot of the PAC to the leader of the opposition in the Sindh Assembly.

Some ministers in the provincial government stated that their government was the first which had begun the tradition to accommodate the opposition to head a number of standing committees.

Published in Dawn, March 20th, 2019