• Maryam to contest against PTI-backed Rana Aftab
• SIC vows ‘surprise’ in Punjab
• Murad to take on MQM-P’s Khurshidi
• PTI, JI boycott Sindh CM poll

KARACHI / LAHORE: The two key allies in the expected ruling coalition in the Centre, the PPP and PML-N, are set to grab the coveted position of the chief minister in two major provinces on Monday, though the PTI-backed candidates promised a ‘surprise’ in the 371-member Punjab Assembly.

In Punjab, PML-N Senior Vice President Maryam Nawaz Sharif is the party’s candidate for the chief minister slot against Rana Aftab Ahmed of the Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) whereas in Sindh PPP’s Murad Ali Shah will face off Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) candidate Ali Khurshidi amid a boycott by the PTI and the JI.

Initially, the SIC had nominated Mian Aslam Iqbal, MPA-elect from Lahore, for the slot but it replaced him with Rana Aftab from Faisalabad, a former PPP jiyala, as Mr Iqbal had not come to the house to take oath as MPA, fearing his arrest by the Punjab police.

Talking to the media after filing his nomination for the coveted slot, Rana Aftab said that the SIC was in a position to “give a surprise in Monday’s election”. He, however, regretted that SIC MPAs were not being allowed to enter the Punjab Assembly premises. He added the house was still incomplete because notifications of its 27 reserved seats were not being issued by the Election Commission of Pakistan.

Apparently, the victory of Maryam Nawaz Sharif is imminent in the polls, as the party’s nominee for the office of speaker secured 224 votes against SIC’s 98 in the election held on Saturday. Confident of her victory, Ms Sharif is engaged in consultations to pick her cabinet and formulate her development agenda, which would be made public after assuming control of the province. The bureaucracy, including the chief secretary and the inspector-general of police, have already begun giving her briefings on various affairs.

Interestingly, the Governor House has issued invitations only to PML-N elders for the swearing-in ceremony to be held shortly after the polling for the chief minister’s slot. Ms Sharif will be the 30th chief minister of Punjab and the first woman to rule the largest province of the country.

Iftikhar Hussain Mamdoot was the chief minister when Pakistan came into being in 1947, followed by Mian Mumtaz Daultana, Feroze Khan Noon and Sardar Abdul Hameed Dasti. Dr Abdul Jabbar Khan, Sardar Abdul Rashid, Nawab Muzaffar Ali Qazilbash, Sheikh Masood Sadiq, Khan Habibullah Khan, Malik Khuda Bakhsh Bucha, Malik Meraj Khalid and Ghulam Mustafa Khar also ruled Punjab.

Muhammad Hanif Ramey, Nawab Sadiq Hussain Qureshi, Nawaz Sharif, Ghulam Haider Wyne, Mian Manzoor Watto, Sheikh Manzoor Elahi, Sardar Arif Nakai, Mian Afzal Hayat, Shehbaz Sharif, Chaudhry Parvez Elahi, Ejaz Nisar, Dost Mohammad Khosa, Najam Sethi, Hasan Askari Rizvi, Usman Buzdar, Hamza Shehbaz and Mohsin Naqvi also served as full time or caretaker chief ministers of the province.

Murad eyes victory

In the Sindh Assembly, the PTI and Jamaat-i-Islami would boycott the proceedings for the CM’s election, according to the announcement made by both parties on Sunday. Sindh Assembly Speaker Owais Qadir Shah announced the schedule as per which the polling for the CM would take place at 2pm on Monday (today).

The PPP nominated Murad Ali Shah for the position of chief minister.

Ghulam Qadir Chandio, Saleh Shah and Naeem Kharal submitted the nomination papers on behalf of Murad Ali Shah.

On the other hand, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) has fielded Ali Khurshidi for the position of chief minister.

The 38-year-old MQM-P candidate has been elected to the Sindh Assembly seat from Orangi Town for the second consecutive time. A graduate of the Sir Syed University of Engineering and Technology, Mr Khurshidi was elevated to the slot of party’s parliamentary leader during the last term.

A statement issued by the PTI claimed that the PPP candidate for the CM, Mr Shah, contacted its members seeking their support for his election but it had decided to boycott the process. “We would boycott the election of CM Sindh,” said the PTI Sindh chapter president, Haleem Adil Sheikh.

“We don’t want to validate those who have become part of the legislative assembly after stealing the mandate of the people of Sindh. We would resist and take every step to regain our mandate through legal and democratic fight.”

When contacted, a spokesman of JI, which has one MPA in the Sindh Assembly, came up with the same response. In a brief reply to Dawn’s query, he said, “JI would not participate.”

Published in Dawn, February 26th, 2024

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