- Rana Ansar from MQM-Pakistan made history as the first woman Leader of the Opposition in the Sindh Assembly, replacing PTI’s Haleem Adil Sheikh.
- The decision seemed to stem from an understanding between the ruling PPP and opposition MQM-Pakistan to finalize a consensus on the caretaker chief minister as the assembly’s five-year term nears completion.
- Concerns were raised by MQM-Pakistan lawmakers over the rise of drug-related issues and law and order problems in the city during the assembly session.
MQM-Pakistan Member of the Provincial Assembly (MPA) Rana Ansar achieved a significant milestone on Wednesday, as she became the first-ever woman Leader of the Opposition in the Sindh Assembly.
This development came after the Speaker of the Assembly, acting upon a consensus reached between the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the opposition MQM-Pakistan, removed Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s (PTI) Haleem Adil Sheikh from the prestigious position.
The decision appears to be related to the forthcoming completion of the assembly’s five-year term next month and the need to finalize the caretaker chief minister.
The removal of Mr. Sheikh and the appointment of Ms. Ansar as the opposition leader were formally notified by the Provincial Assembly’s secretary, Umar Farooq.
A total of 39 opposition members, comprising 20 from MQM-Pakistan, 10 from the Grand Democratic Alliance, and 9 from PTI, jointly submitted a notice to the assembly secretariat for Mr. Sheikh’s removal from the opposition leader position.
They cited the loss of confidence from the majority of opposition members as the reason for their decision. Simultaneously, the PTI members had not been attending assembly sessions since May 9, leading to the seat of the Leader of the Opposition being vacant during that time.
The nine PTI lawmakers who supported the removal of Mr. Sheikh and the appointment of Ms. Ansar were Karim Bakhsh Gabol, Bilal Ahmed, Mohammad Ali Aziz, Syed Abbas Jafri, Umar Ammari, Imran Ali Shah, Rabia Azfar, Sanjay Gungwani, and Sachanand Lakhwani Sachal.
During the assembly proceedings, Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani informed the house about the application submitted by the majority of opposition lawmakers endorsing Ms. Ansar’s appointment as the opposition leader. Congratulating her in advance, the Speaker officially welcomed Ms. Ansar as the first female opposition leader in the Sindh Assembly, symbolically seating her in the opposition leader’s chair.
Speaking to the media after the session, Rana Ansar expressed gratitude to her party leadership and the Grand Democratic Alliance for nominating her for the position. She emphasized that the next steps would involve the formation of a caretaker government.
The selection of a caretaker chief minister, according to her, would be determined through discussions with the incumbent chief minister, with the primary focus on choosing a competent individual to lead the caretaker government effectively.
Rana Ansar has been serving as a member of the Sindh Assembly since August 2018, having previously been elected on a reserved seat for women in 2013. Born on August 17, 1966, in Hyderabad, she pursued her master’s degree in Islamic Culture from the University of Sindh.
In addition to the political developments, MQM-Pakistan lawmakers expressed concern over the escalating drug problem and deteriorating law and order situation in the city. MPA Sadaqat Hussain pointed out that the district west had become a hotspot for illegal drug businesses and narcotics.
He alleged that illegal petrol shops openly sold Iranian petrol in Orangi Town under police supervision. However, the parliamentary affairs minister assured that strict measures were being taken to control the drug menace, including the formation of a high-level committee.
Furthermore, during the Question Hour, only one out of five-starred questions related to the industries and commerce department was addressed, as most of the concerned members were absent from the session. The Speaker expressed dissatisfaction with their absence, suggesting a lack of interest in obtaining answers to their queries.
Lastly, the Provincial Assembly passed five government bills, including The Sindh Medicolegal Bill, 2023; The Sindh Land Revenue (Amendment) Bill, 2023; The Sindh Faculty of Paramedical and Allied Health Sciences Bill, 2023; The University of Mirpurkhas Bill, 2021; and The Sindh Higher Education (Amendment) Bill, 2021. The Sindh Immunisation and Epidemic Control Bill, 2023 was also introduced and referred to the standing committee for further deliberation.
The assembly session concluded with an adjournment until August 2.