Ex-CJ Saeed-uz-Zaman takes oath as Sindh Governor

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PML-N disowns Nihal Hashmi’s remarks about outgoing governor; Ebad off to Dubai

Salahuddin Haider

Karachi—Former Chief Justice of Pakistan Saeed-uz-Zaman Siddiqui was sworn in as the new Governor of Sindh today, a highly-regarded development for the province, but an irresponsible outburst from PML-N senator was soon rebutted and disowned by the federal government, and by his own party.
The oath-taking ceremony at the Governor’s House was simple but impressive, attended by Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah and members of the provincial cabinet. Chief Justice of the Sindh High Court, Sajjad Ali Shah, administered the oath.
It was a memorable event, for, the taking over by a veteran jurist, would mean a return to the Constitutional rule in a province, ill-reputed for lawlessness and corruption.
Everything went off smoothly till the PML-N senator from Karachi, Nihal Hashmi spilled the beans by irresponsible utterances but the prime minister’s party, sensing trouble, quickly rebutted and disowned it.
Hashmi, a lawyer himself, coming out of the ceremony, told the media that the Governor’s House and the province has been cleansed of a “terrorist” planted 14 years ago under a deal between the then “dictator, General Pervez Musharraf and the head of a terrorists gang, MQM founder leader Altaf Hussain.”
“The MQM, under Altaf’s orders, had been responsible for ruining the peace of Karachi, and Governor Ebad had been working as his agent in the province, sheltering terrorist and criminals because of the power wielded in the coveted office of the Governor and the immunity provided to the Governor’s House,” were the words Nihal used, leaving a bad taste in the mouth.
Perhaps in his assessment, Nihal, normally calm and composed because of his training as presenter of arguments before the higher judiciary for long years, had thought that his condemnation of the outgoing Governor Dr Ishratul Ebad would fetch him some plus points in the eyes of the Prime Minister, and his cabinet colleagues. But he was wide off the mark in his judgement, for he had to face instant rebuttal from the party he belonged to, and tried to eat back his words, but damage had been done.
The Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb appeared on TV screens to denounce Hashmi’s remarks without any loss of time. “It can be Nihal Hashmi’s own views, but does not reflect the opinion of the government or the party in power,” she said in unambiguous terms.
Little did Nihal realise that Ebad had been encouraged and condescended to, not only by Nawaz Sharif himself, but also his close aides like the younger brother Shahbaz Sharif, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar.
All of them during their visits to Karachi invariably had private meetings with Ebad at the Governor’s House, sought his cooperation in curbing crime, and in meeting the targets in anti-terrorist campaign in Karachi and rest of the province. Even the Establishment had backed him for a long time for his efforts to keep the province under control and for aiding and assisting the military and the Rangers, especially during the days when octogenarian Qaim Ali Shah was chief minister and captain of the apex committee in the southern province.
Ebad, may have had his failings, but was given an honourable farewell by CM Murad Ali Shah, because of the respect which he commanded, and had rendered some yeomen service for the province, ensuring development of Karachi, and also taking care of law and order in the troubled province as its Constitutional head. The chief minister had called on him to pay his respects barely 24 hours before Ebad’s final departure from his seat of authority, and the city he belonged to, for Dubai where he wishes to spend time with family.
He intends returning home soon and concentrate on writing memoir, family sources said.
The PML-N senator Nihal, knowing that he had landed himself in trouble because of his uncharitable remarks of branding the outgoing Governor as “terrorist” had an instant backlash, tried to explain that he did not wish to cast aspersion on the outgoing Governor, but perhaps those at the helm of affairs in Islamabad, had already taken a serious notice of that.
The appointment of the former chief justice as the President’s representative in Sindh, and as a Constitutional head of the province, would be an added asset to the prime minister because of Constitutional approach, which meant that illegalities would now be avoided and the province will now be guided by rule of law.
(The other instance of the kind was the appointment of Akhtar Hussain as Governor of the now defunct West Pakistan with Lahore as his seat of authority. The then province, also a one-unit, was governed under rules and procedures, which made the job of the administration much easier and ensured relief for the people.) Similar are the hopes of the general population in Sindh now, which had somehow acquired a bad reputation because of the eight years of misrule, and lack of proper guidance from the party in power in the province, which had the federal government under it too for initial five years.
CM Murad Ali Shah, himself is cautious and not only mercurial and bold in his attempt to straighten out things, will have a job to achieve the goals he set for himself, more easier now than till today.
The Governor’s ceremonial or traditional visit to the tomb of the Father of the Nation Quaid-i-Azam , which Governors and Chief Ministers pay after taking oath, could not materialise because of the repairs going on at the Mausoleum, and because the new Governor is unable to climb stairs.

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