KARACHI  -  Former chief minister Syed Murad Ali Shah Thursday was re-elected for the second time as the 30th chief executive of the province after he defeated joint opposition candidate Shaheryar Maher in the Sindh Assembly election for the slot was carried out through division of house process.

The provincial assembly proceedings began an hour late Thursday. After recitation from the holy Quran and oath of GDA member Razzaq Rahimoon, the speaker announced the beginning of election process for choosing the leader of the house through division of house process.

The lawmakers who were called in alphabetic order were asked to go through two gates after signing the roll. Those who wanted to support PPP candidate Syed Murad Ali Shah were asked to go from gate 1 of the assembly while those supporting Shaheryar Maher had to go through gate 2.

After collecting their ballot papers from the speaker’s desk, members of the house gathered at their respective gates to support the candidate of their choice.

The ballot papers were submitted to the assembly staff. Abdul Aziz Junejo cast the first vote while Sindh Assembly Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani was the last to cast his vote.

After the roll call was completed, the assembly secretary along with his other associated staff counted the ballot papers of the members who had passed through each gate.

As per the results announced by the speaker, a total of 158 votes were cast and Murad Ali Shah secured 97 votes while the opposition candidate Shaheryar Maher bagged 61 votes. “I declare Murad Ali Shah as chief minister of Sindh,” announced the speaker.

Four lawmakers, including one from MMA and three from TLP members, did not participate in the polling process while two lawmakers one each from MQM-P (Shahana Ashar) and PTI (Seema Zia) have yet to take oath because of being abroad. Polls were not held on PS-87 Malir due to death of TLP candidate while a PPP candidate has opted for the National Assembly seat.

At least 28 members from PPP, MQM-P, GDA, PTI and MMA made speeches to felicitate the newly elected chief minister. The TLP member was not allowed by the speaker to address the assembly as he wanted to speak immediately after the speech of the chief minister, which is against the norms of the house.

Giving his inaugural speech in the house, the chief minister said that law and order would be his top priority, adding he would work on capacity building of the police in order to enable them to deal with the security issues properly.

“Resolving the water issue is also our priority, including provision of drinking water in urban centres and water for fulfilling agriculture needs in rural areas,” he said, adding they had installed 2000 RO plants in the province for overcoming shortage. “We will work on lining of canals to preserve water and utilise it as much as possible,” he said.

He also highlighted the use of alternate energy resources, including solar panels and wind projects, for improving energy situation in the province.

“In the health sector, we will try to improve the existing facilities at district and tehsil level,” promised the chief minister who also said they would establish NICVD-type centres for rehabilitation of the disabled.

He admitted the government failure in improving the education sector despite imposing emergency in the sector, but said they would be working on human development and train teachers to improve their performance.

The agriculture sector has progressed during the last 10-year rule of PPP and all crops have witnessed better production with every passing year, claimed Murad.

The chief minister sought support of PTI for raising the issue of the province share in NFC award and said the previous government had failed to launch new NFC award.

He also urged the federal government to avoid winding up Benazir Income Support Programme and said that it has helped the poor masses in the province.

He said had there been a level-playing field, PPP would have secured more votes easily grabbed 85 seats.

Joint opposition candidate for chief minister’s slot, Shaheryar Maher, congratulated the newly elected chief minister and thanked the opposition benches for reposing confidence in him. He hoped the work that Murad Ali Shah was not able to do during his last tenure would be carried out in this tenure.

Former opposition leader Khawaja Izharul Hasan said they do not want any personal gains or profits. They have been demanding and will continue to demanded whatever they are authorised under the constitution of Pakistan, he added.

“PPP is a liberal and progressive party as is MQM. We only oppose the way it rules,” he said, adding if PPPP is a majority party, they also have the support of 20 million people of the province.

We should be considered as government advisers and would support the treasury in any step for the welfare of the people of the province.

PTI lawmaker Haleem Adil Shaikh said they expect good from Murad Ali Shah as he is young and energetic. “We will play the role of bridge between the federal and provincial government in ensuring the due share of the province if the PPPP delivers to the masses,” he said.

He hoped a good working relationship would be developed and equal share would be given to the urban and rural areas of the province in development process.

The house was later prorogued by Sindh Assembly Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani after reading his own message for he is also acting as the Sindh governor after the resignation of Muhammad Zubair Umar.