PPP, Muttahida candidates elected unopposed to four reserved senate seats from Sindh (Dawn (Pakistan))

Four candidates two each belonging to the Pakistan Peoples Party and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement were elected unopposed on Saturday after the covering candidates on the reserved seats withdrew their nomination papers under a seatadjustment agreement between the two parties.
PPP’s Sassui Palijo and the MQM’s Nighat Mirza Hina were elected unopposed on the two seats reserved for women, while the PPP’s Farooq H. Naek and the MQM’s Barrister Mohammad Ali Saif were elected unopposed on the seats reserved for technocrats.
As there were a total of 11 vacant seats of the senate, including the four seats reserved for women and technocrats, from Sindh, the election will now be held on the remaining seven general seats on March 5. Eight candidates five belonging to the PPP, two to the MQM and one to the Pakistan Muslim LeagueFunctional are in the run for the seven senate general seats.
Here are the profiles of the candidates elected unopposed on Saturday:
Scion of a political family
It is the first time Sassui Palijo is entering national politics. A graduate of the University of Sindh and an undergraduate in law from London, she unlike most female parliamentarians who only bag seats reserved for women won a general seat in a direct election on PS85 Thatta against the mighty Shirazi group in the 2002 general elections.
During the politically turbulent times when retired General Pervez Musharraf was at the helm in the country, she turned out to be an outspoken lawmaker a trait many attribute to her belonging to a family of politicians. She is the daughter of Ghulam Qadir Palijo, a former member of the Sindh Assembly, niece of Rasool Bakhsh Palijo, founder of the Qaumi Awami Tehreek and a renowned political thinker, and a close relative of Hamzo Khan Palijo, a former senator.
Her active role during the Pakistan Peoples Party’s time on the opposition benches in the province for five years earned her a ticket for the same constituency again, which she won in 2008 with a greater margin against the same group. She became minister for culture and her activism finally brought the archaeology department from Islamabad to the province.
Even her critics praise her for her performance in the ministry during which she got published close to 300 books on Sindh and its history and the Sindhi language.
She lost the seat for the first time in the 2013 elections and many people blamed it on the party’s internal politics, as a large number of party votes chose another candidate fielded by the PPP’s disgruntled group against her.
With her election on a seat reserved for women, the senate must prepare for heated and lively debates particularly on the rights of the provinces.
The barrister who defended Musharraf’s emergency
Barrister Mohammad Ali Saif joined the Muttahida Qaumi Movement merely 15 months ago but he is no stranger to politics.
Hailing from Swabi in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and a lawyer by profession, he obtained his LLB (Hon) from the University of Buckingham in 1991, BaratLaw from Lincoln’s Inn in 1992, LLM in human rights law from the University of Essex and another postgraduate degree in international law from the University of London.
He has been a staunch supporter of retired Gen Pervez Musharraf and is among a very few people who publicly defended the military dictator for imposing the state of emergency on Nov 3, 2007, dismissal of judges of the superior judiciary, including the then chief justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry.
He was rewarded for his loyalty when Gen Musharraf appointed him a caretaker federal minister in the Mohammadmian Soomro’s cabinet that held the 2008 general elections.
And when Gen Musharraf decided to establish his own political party the All Pakistan Muslim League (APML) he appointed Barrister Saif its secretary general. He remained associated with the general till 2012 despite reports that he was unhappy with the way the former dictator was running his party.
In Nov 2013, the barrister joined the Muttahida Qaumi Movement though he claimed at a press conference that he took this decision after obtaining permission from Gen Musharraf. For one year he remained the MQM’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Fata chapter president.
NIGHAT Mirza Hina
Many in the party still view him as Gen Musharraf’s man in the MQM. But the party chief, Altaf Hussain, granted him a party ticket to contest the 2015 senate election from Sindh on a technocrat seat.
Prisoner of conscience
Former chairman of the senate and federal law minister Farooq H. Naek, a trusted lieutenant of the slain prime minister Benazir Bhutto and former president Asif Ali Zardari, has returned to the upper house of parliament for the third time in a row.
He became senator for the first time from Sindh in 2003 and was reelected in 2009. He was made law minister in Yousuf Raza Gilani’s cabinet twice and in the intervening period he was elected senate chairman.
Brought up in Karachi, he did his LLB from S.M. Law College and got a Master’s degree in economics from the University of Karachi.
His affiliation with the PPP spans over 45 years.
He was employed as the assistant director in the directorate of labour and social welfare of the Sindh government before being appointed a civil judge and first class magistrate from 1971 to 1976.
He was also made deputy attorney general for Pakistan during Ms Bhutto’s second tenure from 1994 to 1996.
He was arrested in 1983 while leading a demonstration against military ruler General Ziaul Haq during the movement for the restoration of democracy. He remained in jail for about six months along with 10 other lawyers. He was declared prisoner of conscience by the Amnesty International.
What helped him rise to fame was his successful defending of Ms Bhutto and Mr Zardari in numerous cases filed by previous governments in courts in Pakistan, the United Kingdom, Switzerland and Spain. Those difficult years, leaders in the party believe, created a special niche among the party leadership for him and earned him those highprofile roles whether the PPP was in government or opposition.
He was elected general secretary of the Karachi Bar Association in 1983 and its president in 1989. He was twice elected vice chairman of the Sindh Bar Council in 1986 and 1993.
He headed committees as law and justice minister that drafted several laws, including National Accountability Commission Bill, NizameAdl Regulation, GilgitBaltistan (Empowerment and SelfGovernment) Order, 2009, Fata Reforms, etc.
The old hand
Advocate Nighat Mirza Hina’s association with the Muttahida Qaumi Movement spans over two decades and she remained a senator from 2003 to 2006 during the Musharraf years.
Known as a writer and poet, she authored six books Hawaon ki Zanjeer, Malal Mausam Azab Mausam, Mashriq kay Sooraj, Kuch Meray Dil Se, 92 kay HalatoWaqiat and Sehmay Hoye Shehar.
An educationist by profession, she acquired a postgraduate degree in Islamic History from Karachi University and completed her LLB from S.M. Law College.
As an overseas Pakistani in Saudi Arabia, she joined the then Mohajir Qaumi Movementbacked MohibbanePakistan, a Middle Eastbased social welfare organisation formed by MQM leader Rauf Siddiqui, in 1989.
Her husband was an officebearer of the Mohibban.
She became a vocal supporter of the MQM when the party was facing an army operation in 1992 and onwards.
In 2003, MQM chief Altaf Hussain made her a senator on a seat reserved for women from Sindh. She remained a senator from March 2003 until her retirement in March 2006.
She always maintained a low profile in the MQM and did not hold any office.
After her retirement from the senate, she became inactive in the politics, as she told an MQM gathering on Saturday that she had promised MQM chief Altaf Hussain that she would work for the party in future.
She was elected unopposed on a seat reserved for women from Sindh.