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Muhammad Bakhsh Soomro

Islamabad, Pakistan
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About Muhammad
Muhammad Bakhsh Soomro is a journalist based in Islamabad, Pakistan.
He has been doing journalism since 1995, during his professional career he had been working in different reputable media organisations such as BOL TV Network, Daily Kawish and KTN News Network, Pahenji News Paper and Time News. 
Currently He is working with Voice of America Urdu service as Investigative-Political reporter.
Video Package (Web / Broadcast)

Establishment of a New Agency for Cyber Crime Investigations: How Will the New Institution Operate?

Why was Ishaq Dar appointed as Deputy Prime Minister?

Delays and backlog in getting Pakistani passport, what's the issue?

PML-N Leads in By-Elections; 'Voters Have Voted for the Ruling Parties'

By-elections in Pakistan: 'Mobile phone service will be suspended to complete the electoral process'

Pakistan Senate: Elections Complete for 37 Seats, Ruling Coalition Needs 7 More Members for Two-Thirds Majority

03 Apr 2024  |  www.urduvoa.com
Following the Senate elections for 37 seats, the ruling coalition in Pakistan now has 57 members out of 85, with the Pakistan Peoples Party holding 24 seats, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz 19, MQM 3, ANP 3, BAP 4, and four independents. The coalition needs seven more members to achieve a two-thirds majority, which is unlikely to come from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The opposition parties have 28 members, with PTI having 20. Elections were postponed in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa due to the non-administration of oaths to members elected on special seats. In Punjab, PML-N secured significant victories, while in Sindh, PPP won 10 out of 12 seats. Islamabad's two seats were split between PML-N and PPP. The Senate now has 85 members, with PPP having the most senators at 24. PTI could potentially become the largest party in the Senate after elections on the remaining seats in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Aseefa Bhutto Zardari's Entry into Parliamentary Politics; 'All Opposing Candidates Withdraw'

31 Mar 2024  |  www.urduvoa.com
Aseefa Bhutto Zardari, the youngest daughter of former President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, is set to begin her parliamentary career after all opposing candidates withdrew, leading to her unopposed election as a member of the National Assembly from NA-207 Shaheed Benazirabad. The seat became vacant following Asif Ali Zardari's election as President. Aseefa has a background in politics and social sciences, with degrees from Oxford Brookes University and University College London, and has been involved in political campaigning and polio eradication efforts in Pakistan.

PTI Likely to Become the Largest Party in the Senate

29 Mar 2024  |  www.urduvoa.com
After 18 candidates were elected unopposed, polling for 30 seats in the Senate of Pakistan will take place on April 2. The ruling coalition seeks a two-thirds majority, while the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) is hopeful to emerge as the largest party. The Election Commission scheduled the elections for April 2, following the retirement of 48 senators. PTI currently has 18 members in the Senate, and if they secure at least seven more seats from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, their total could reach 27. The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) could potentially have the second-highest number of senators, reaching up to 25. The ruling coalition already has a two-thirds majority in the National Assembly but needs the same in the Senate for constitutional amendments and major decisions.

Several citizens held hostage by bandits; Sindh government to launch another operation in Kacha

24 Mar 2024  |  www.urduvoa.com
The law and order situation in the border areas of Sindh and Punjab, particularly in the Kacha regions of five districts, remains dire with 40 citizens currently held hostage by bandits. The districts of Shikarpur, Kashmore, Ghotki, Sukkur, and Jacobabad are facing rampant banditry, with hostages often released only after paying large ransoms. Despite multiple operations, the government and security forces have been unsuccessful in completely eradicating the bandit problem. Local journalists and elected representatives have highlighted the use of social media and mobile phones by bandits to coordinate kidnappings and ransom demands. The situation has led to widespread fear among the populace, with some being forced to relocate. The Sindh government, prompted by demands from Peoples Party representatives, has initiated another operation against the bandits in Kacha.

Senate Elections: Many Senior Leaders of PPP Overlooked, PML-N Ready to Bring New Faces

18 Mar 2024  |  www.urduvoa.com
In the upcoming Senate elections in Pakistan, scheduled for April 2, 147 candidates are competing for 48 seats. The Pakistan People's Party (PPP) has overlooked several senior leaders, including Raza Rabbani, who has been a senator since 1993. Instead, the party has issued a ticket to the son of industrialist Sikandar Jatoi, who has no prior affiliation with the party. The Awami National Party's Aimal Wali Khan will contest from Balochistan, and the Pakistan Muslim League (N) is ready to bring new faces to the Senate, including Mohammad Ishaq Dar and Mohsin Naqvi. Former caretaker Prime Minister Anwar ul Haq Kakar has also submitted his nomination papers, potentially aiming for the Senate Chairman position, for which Yousaf Raza Gillani of PPP is a candidate.

Why did Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif have to withdraw the appointment of the Chairman of IRSA?

16 Mar 2024  |  www.urduvoa.com
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif withdrew the appointment of Zafar Mahmood as Chairman of the Indus River System Authority (IRSA) following objections from the Sindh government, sparking debate in Pakistan. The decision is seen as indicative of rifts within the ruling coalition. The Sindh government, along with the Pakistan Peoples Party, condemned the appointment as unconstitutional and an infringement on provincial rights. The controversy stems from an ordinance passed by an interim government that granted the Prime Minister the authority to appoint the IRSA Chairman, a move criticized for centralizing power and potentially causing tension between the federal government and provinces.

By-elections on Six Vacant Senate Seats

14 Mar 2024  |  www.urduvoa.com
By-elections are being held for six vacant Senate seats in Pakistan's upper house following the election of various members to the National or Provincial Assemblies. Polling is taking place in Islamabad for one seat, in Sindh for two seats, and in Balochistan for three seats. Notable candidates include Yousuf Raza Gilani of the Pakistan People's Party and Elias Mehrban of the Sunni Ittehad Council in Islamabad, with competition among various parties and independent candidates in Sindh and Balochistan.

52 Senators Retire; Senate Becomes Inactive for the Third Time in the Country's History

12 Mar 2024  |  www.urduvoa.com
52 senators elected in 2018 have retired after completing their six-year term, leading to the Senate of Pakistan becoming inactive until new elections are held, which is scheduled for April 2. This marks the third time in Pakistan's history that the Senate will be ineffective due to vacant seats. The Election Commission has begun preparations for elections to fill the remaining 48 seats, as the seats allocated to FATA will no longer be contested following its merger with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The retirement includes members from various political parties, and the new senators will be elected by the members of the respective provincial assemblies.

Reporter's Diary: Chants of 'thief', 'lioness', 'mandate thief', and 'watch thief' in the National Assembly Hall

09 Mar 2024  |  www.urduvoa.com
On the morning of March 9th, the National Assembly Hall, transformed into a polling station for the presidential elections, was filled with members from the Senate and National Assembly. The Islamabad High Court's Chief Justice presided as the officer for the elections. The first vote was cast by Abdul Hakim Baloch of the Pakistan Peoples Party. During the polling, members of the Sunni Ittehad Council entered chanting in favor of Imran Khan, led by PTI Senator Faisal Javed. Opposition parties faced chants of 'thief' and 'mandate thief', while they responded with 'watch thief'. The Election Commission later announced that Asif Ali Zardari won the presidential election with 411 votes against Sunni Ittehad Council's candidate Mahmood Khan Achakzai, who secured 181 votes.

Asif Ali Zardari: From Allegations of 'Mr. Ten Percent' to Becoming President of Pakistan for the Second Time

09 Mar 2024  |  www.urduvoa.com
Asif Ali Zardari has been elected as the President of Pakistan for the second time, assuming office on a Sunday as the country's 14th President. He won the presidential election with a significant majority against the presidential candidate of the Sunni Ittehad Council, Mahmood Khan Achakzai. Zardari is recognized for his political maneuvering skills, and even his critics acknowledge his ability to find a way in the politics of reconciliation and possibilities. Following the general elections on February 8, Zardari secured several parliamentary positions for his party, the Pakistan Peoples Party, after negotiations with the Muslim League (N). His journey from an average builder to a popular leader of a major party is chronicled, including his marriage to Benazir Bhutto, the daughter of former Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. Despite facing numerous allegations and legal cases, including corruption charges that earned him the nickname 'Mr. Ten Percent,' Zardari has been acquitted in many cases, with some still pending. As President, he is expected to be immune from legal proceedings for the next five years. Zardari's second term as President presents challenges such as managing the current political alliance, reducing political tensions, improving economic conditions, and providing relief to the public.

Ruling coalition obtains two-thirds majority in National Assembly, notification for remaining reserved seats issued

05 Mar 2024  |  www.urduvoa.com
The ruling coalition in Pakistan's National Assembly has achieved a two-thirds majority following the Election Commission's allocation of reserved seats to various parties, including the Pakistan Muslim League (N), Pakistan Peoples Party, and others. This majority enables the coalition to amend the constitution without opposition support. The National Assembly consists of 336 members, with the ruling coalition now comprising 230 members from eight parties. The Pakistan Muslim League (N) has reached a total of 123 members, while the Pakistan Peoples Party has 73 members. Other parties such as MQM Pakistan and JUI have also secured seats.

Reporter's Diary: Deputy Speaker says the constitution does not allow us to speak against the army

04 Mar 2024  |  www.urduvoa.com
The fourth session of the National Assembly of Pakistan started 42 minutes late and was marked by a different atmosphere with no slogans or chaos at the beginning. Opposition leader Umar Ayub raised the issue of a raid on Mahmood Khan Achakzai's house, which was condemned by both opposition and government members, including Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. The session was notable for the absence of the usual uproar during speeches, except when Bilawal Bhutto addressed the cipher issue, leading to protests from Sunni Ittehad Council members. The session also saw speeches from Akhtar Mengal and former speaker Asad Qaiser, with Mengal criticizing the raid on Achakzai's house and the deputy speaker reminding him that the constitution does not permit speaking against the army. The session was adjourned until March 8 due to a lack of quorum.

Prime Minister's election amidst slogans and commotion

03 Mar 2024  |  www.urduvoa.com
The National Assembly of Pakistan was filled with slogans and commotion as members of the Pakistan Muslim League (N), led by Nawaz Sharif and Shehbaz Sharif, and the Pakistan Peoples Party, with Asif Ali Zardari and Bilawal Bhutto, participated in the election of the Prime Minister. The session was marked by protests from the Sunni Ittehad Council, displaying pictures of Imran Khan and engaging in slogan chanting. Despite the chaos, Shehbaz Sharif was elected Prime Minister with 201 votes, while Omar Ayub received 92 votes. The election was preceded by a joint meeting of eight allied parties to ensure the number game was complete. The session began with a delay and was punctuated by intense slogan-matching between opposing parties' members.

Prime Minister's election amidst slogans and commotion

03 Mar 2024  |  www.urduvoa.com
The National Assembly of Pakistan was filled with slogans and commotion as members of the Pakistan Muslim League (N), led by Nawaz Sharif and Shehbaz Sharif, and the Pakistan Peoples Party, with Asif Ali Zardari and Bilawal Bhutto, participated in the election of the Prime Minister. The session was marked by protests from the Sunni Ittehad Council, displaying pictures of Imran Khan and engaging in slogan chanting. Despite the chaos, Shehbaz Sharif was elected Prime Minister with 201 votes, while Omar Ayub received 92 votes. The election was preceded by a joint meeting of eight allied parties to ensure the number game was complete. The session began with a delay and was punctuated by intense slogan-matching between opposing parties' members.

Shehbaz Sharif Will Have to Bear the Burden of Tough Decisions

03 Mar 2024  |  www.urduvoa.com
Shehbaz Sharif has been elected as the Prime Minister of Pakistan for the second time. His new government faces significant challenges, particularly in controlling inflation and negotiating a new program with the IMF. The government will have to present a budget in June that aligns with the IMF's conditions, which may include privatization of loss-making institutions and a free-floating exchange rate for the dollar. Pakistan's foreign exchange reserves are currently at $7.9 billion, and the IMF may require reserves sufficient for at least four months of imports. The Peoples Party wants to support the government but is hesitant to take on the burden of difficult decisions, leaving Shehbaz Sharif to shoulder the responsibility. The new government also needs to address the circular debt in the energy sector and negotiate foreign loans repayment. Political analysts suggest that there is a possibility of increased political instability and differences among government allies.

Reporter's Diary: 'Throat is sore but sloganeering must be done'

01 Mar 2024  |  www.urduvoa.com
The National Assembly of Pakistan's session on March 1, 2024, started 38 minutes late and was marked by chaos similar to the previous day. Members of the Sunni Ittehad Council disrupted proceedings with slogans and placards bearing Imran Khan's image. Despite a sore throat, Umar Ayub insisted on sloganeering in support of his leader. Sardar Ayaz Sadiq of Pakistan Muslim League (N) was elected as speaker with 199 votes, while Syed Ghulam Mustafa Shah of Pakistan Peoples Party became deputy speaker with 197 votes. The session was contentious, with members of the Sunni Ittehad Council continuing to chant slogans in favor of Imran Khan, while opposition to the leadership of Muslim League (N) was evident.

Reporter's Diary: 'Nawaz Sharif became a member of the assembly after several years but there was no joy on his face'

01 Mar 2024  |  www.urduvoa.com
The first session of the newly elected 16th National Assembly of Pakistan began with strict security measures due to the anticipated arrival of a large number of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) activists. The session started late, and the atmosphere was charged with political slogans and protests, particularly from PTI members who displayed pictures of Imran Khan and protested against alleged electoral fraud. Nawaz Sharif, attending the assembly after several years, faced protests and showed no joy. The session concluded amidst noise and chaos, with the next assembly meeting scheduled for March 1st at 10 am, where the election for Speaker, Deputy Speaker, and Prime Minister will take place.

Continuation of Syed and Sharif Families in Ruling Sindh and Punjab; What's the Matter?

27 Feb 2024  |  www.urduvoa.com
Following the general elections on February 8 in Pakistan, for the first time a woman has been elected as the Chief Minister of Punjab, while in Sindh, Murad Ali Shah has been appointed as the Chief Minister for the third consecutive term. The nominations for the Chief Minister positions in Punjab and Sindh have drawn criticism from various circles. The Pakistan Peoples Party has a tradition of trusting candidates from the Syed family in Sindh since 1988. In Punjab, the Muslim League (N) has consistently chosen members of the Sharif family for the Chief Minister's role since 1985. The article discusses the political dynamics and the criticism of these decisions, highlighting the influence of family ties in Pakistani politics.

Election Commission Begins Preparations for Presidential Election

26 Feb 2024  |  www.urduvoa.com
The Election Commission of Pakistan has started preparations for the presidential election, considering holding the election on either March 8 or 9, in accordance with Article 41 of the Constitution. The election must be held within 30 to 60 days before the current president's term ends. Dr. Arif Alvi's five-year term was completed on November 9, 2023, but the election could not be conducted earlier due to the dissolution of provincial assemblies and the National Assembly's incomplete electoral college. The Senate is also facing the possibility of becoming ineffective after March 11, as half of its seats will be vacant, with elections expected in the last week of March or April.

Distribution of reserved seats in Punjab and Sindh; PTI got nothing

23 Feb 2024  |  www.urduvoa.com
The Election Commission of Pakistan has issued notifications for the success of candidates on reserved seats for women and minorities in the Punjab and Sindh provincial assemblies, ahead of their first sessions post-elections. While the Pakistan Muslim League (N) in Punjab and the Pakistan Peoples Party in Sindh are in a position to form governments, PTI-supported candidates have also succeeded. However, despite the inclusion of PTI-backed winners in the Sunni Ittehad Council, they have not been allocated any reserved seats. The Election Commission will decide whether these members can be given reserved seats since no candidate from the Sunni Ittehad Council won in the elections. If the Council is granted reserved seats, notifications for other assemblies will also be issued.

Maulana Fazlur Rehman's aggressive style was a political move, which failed: Analysts

22 Feb 2024  |  www.urduvoa.com
In Pakistan, the upcoming elections on February 8, 2024, have altered traditional political alliances, bringing some rivals closer while distancing some allies. Unexpected talks between Maulana Fazlur Rehman and Imran Khan's party were observed post-election. The Pakistan Muslim League (N) and Pakistan Peoples Party formed a government after extensive consultations, excluding Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (F) despite their offer to collaborate in Balochistan. Maulana Fazlur Rehman's initial aggressive stance was seen as a political strategy to gain leverage, which analysts believe did not succeed. The new government's composition and the opposition's potential majority in the National Assembly are under scrutiny, with several parties yet to decide on joining the government coalition.

How were the negotiations for government formation successful between the PML-N and PPP?

21 Feb 2024  |  www.urduvoa.com
Following the February 8th elections in Pakistan, successful negotiations between Pakistan Muslim League (N) and Pakistan Peoples Party have led to an agreement on power-sharing. Asif Ali Zardari is to become the President and Mian Shehbaz Sharif the Prime Minister. The parties have also agreed on the distribution of other constitutional positions, with PPP taking the Senate Chairmanship and PML-N securing the National Assembly Speaker role. The deadlock in government formation talks was broken after a meeting between Shehbaz Sharif and Bilawal Bhutto Zardari at the residence of an important personality, with details confirmed by PML-N spokesperson Maryam Aurangzeb. The leadership of both parties announced the formation of the government in a joint press conference, stating they have the required numbers in the assembly to move forward with the power-sharing agreement.

PML-N's Considerations for PPP's Role in Government

20 Feb 2024  |  www.urduvoa.com
Despite twelve days passing since the general elections on February 8th in Pakistan, no party is in a position to form a government. Ongoing negotiations between political parties, primarily Pakistan Muslim League (N), Pakistan Peoples Party, and Muttahida Qaumi Movement Pakistan, are facing hurdles, particularly regarding PML-N's desire for PPP to join the federal cabinet. While some issues have been resolved and a draft agreement prepared, PPP's reluctance to join the federal government remains a significant obstacle. The sixth round of negotiations is expected to clarify PPP's position after internal consultations. Meanwhile, protests against alleged electoral fraud continue in Sindh and Balochistan, and related issues have reached the courts. Analysts warn that political tension and instability could pose a threat to democracy. PPP is willing to support PML-N's prime ministerial candidate but is interested in the presidency, while PML-N has agreed to offer PPP one of the two key parliamentary positions and may support Asif Ali Zardari in the presidential election. MQM's demands for joining the government alliance include support for a three-point constitutional amendment and ensuring constitutional protection for the devolution of powers and resources.

Divided mandate in elections, allegations of rigging and protests

14 Feb 2024  |  www.urduvoa.com
Following the general elections in Pakistan, political parties are engaged in negotiations to form a government. The Pakistan Muslim League (N), despite winning the most seats, is not satisfied with the results, nor is the Pakistan Peoples Party. Allegations of election rigging are widespread, with protests and legal challenges unfolding across the country. The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), which has the support of the most independent candidates, is also accusing the elections of being rigged and has announced it will challenge the results in the Supreme Court. PTI has decided not to consult with the three major parties, PML(N), PPP, and MQM, for government formation, indicating a preference to sit in opposition. The political uncertainty raises concerns of a repeat of the 1977 election aftermath, which led to martial law.

Waiting for the National Assembly Session in Pakistan After Elections; What's Next?

12 Feb 2024  |  www.urduvoa.com
The Election Commission of Pakistan has announced the unofficial results of the elections held on February 8th. The first session of the National Assembly and the swearing-in of newly elected members are pending. The Constitution of Pakistan and the Election Reforms Act set various deadlines for these processes. The first session must be called within 21 days of the elections, by February 29th, 2024. Before this, the Election Commission must issue a gazette notification of successful candidates and allocate seats for women and minorities based on party performance across provinces. The process of independent candidates joining parties and the allocation of reserved seats will be completed by February 25th-27th. The first session will include the oath-taking of members, election of the Speaker and Deputy Speaker, and subsequently, the election of the Prime Minister.

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