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KARACHI, April 7: The Sindh assembly on Monday elected Syed Qaim Ali Shah of the Pakistan People’s Party as chief minister of the province.

New Speaker Nisar Ahmad Khuhro had put the motions by 19 members before the house for a voice vote and announced its adoption unanimously as there were 90 ‘ayes’ and no ‘nay’. Members belonging to the MQM, PML-Q and PM-F were not in the house.

After the announcement, the house echoed with slogans of Jiye Bhutto raised from the galleries and the thumping of desks by MPAs.

Felicitating the chief minister, the members spoke about the problems being faced by the people, including unemployment, rising prices, law and order, water, transport, education, corruption and nepotism inherited from eight years of ‘misrule’.

The MQM and the PML-Q boycotted the proceedings when members of the house were paying tribute to outgoing speaker Syed Muzaffar Hussain Shah.

Mohammad Adil Siddiqui of the MQM rose to draw the attention of the speaker to a message he had received about manhandling of former chief minister Dr Arbab Ghulam Rahim by a crowd on the assembly premises while he was leaving after taking the oath as a member.

When Dr Arbab Rahim, who is chief of the provincial PML-Q, entered the house at the start of the session, a person sitting in the speaker’s gallery raised slogans against him and tossed a shoe towards him. People in the gallery responded to the slogans but the situation was calmed by Mr Khuhro who expressed regrets over the incident.

The speaker posted his sergeants at arms around Dr Rahim to protect him.

When Mr Siddiqui spoke about the incident of manhandling, slogans of shame shame were raised in the visitors’ gallery. He asked the speaker to take notice of the incident and left the house with his colleagues.

Qaim Ali Shah rushed after them to persuade them not to boycott the session.

PML-F members were persuaded by senior PPP leaders to stay in the house.

Mr Khuhro expressed regrets over the incident and called for tolerance. He said such humiliating incidents would not enhance the prestige and sanctity of the assembly.

Mr Khuhro, Pir Mazharul Haq and Dr Zulfiqar Mirza also tried to bring MQM MPAs back to the house.

The speaker announced a break of 10 minutes. However, when the house reassembled, members of the MQM, PML-Q and PML-F stayed away.

Before administering the oath to the speaker-elect, Muzaffar Shah emphasised the need for inculcating the spirit of tolerance for democracy to succeed. “We are at the crossroads of history and nothing will be better than an approach of reconciliation for democracy.”

He administered the oath to Mr Khuhro, who then swore in Deputy Speaker Shahla Raza.

Several members greeted the speaker and deputy speaker on their unopposed election and assured them of their cooperation. They urged them to protect the minority in the house.