ISLAMABAD: A move is under way to replace Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Syed Khursheed Shah with Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) vice chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi.
The move has been spearheaded by the Muttahida Qaumi Movement which is said to be quite “annoyed” with the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) over different issues in Karachi — a stronghold of the MQM.
It has been learnt that there is a provision in the rules and procedures of business of the National Assembly which permits such a change and it has nothing to do with the Constitution.
When contacted, Mr Qureshi confirmed the move and said the MQM wanted him to be new opposition leader. He said the Muttahida leaders had called on him and forwarded the proposal to replace Khursheed Shah of the PPP through ballot. “In fact the MQM, which had supported the PPP for making Khursheed Shah leader of the opposition in the house, is unhappy and wants to get Mr Shah replaced,” he said.
In reply to a question about the number of PTI seats, Mr Qureshi said: “Although we do not have adequate number of seats in the National Assembly, with the support of the MQM and other opposition parties and independent members we can make the change.”
At present the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz has 188 seats in the lower house of parliament, followed by the PPP with 47, PTI 32, MQM 24, Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F) 13, PML-Functional five and Jamaat-i-Islami with four seats.
The graph of party-wise seats shows that Mr Qureshi can win the election for the office of opposition leader if only the MQM supports him. If this happens, the PTI will have a significant role in the appointment of a new National Accountability Bureau chairman as incumbent NAB chief Qamar Zaman Chaudhry will complete his four-year term on Oct 10.
The new chairman is appointed by the prime minister in mandatory consultation with the opposition leader.
Answering a question, Mr Qureshi said that besides the appointment of new NAB chief, the PTI would also have an important role in the formation of new caretaker set-up (for conducting 2018 elections) which was formed in consultation with the opposition leader.
Talking to Dawn, PPP secretary general Farhatullah Babar said Khursheed Shah was well aware of the move against him and was confident that the PTI would not succeed in replacing him. ‘‘The PTI and MQM will not succeed in the number game.”
However, Senator Babar said there was a provision in the rules and procedure of business of the lower house that such a change could be made. “But If any such change is made it will expose fault lines in the opposition,” he said.
Published in Dawn