KARACHI: While law-enforcement agencies continued to pick up and detain suspects for up to 90 days in the city under the controversial Pakistan Protection Ordinance without even getting a slap on the wrist by the Sindh government, the provincial assembly was assured by the information minister on Monday that the Pakistan Peoples Party would ensure that the bill was not passed in the senate.
The Sindh ruling party’s conflicting views on the controversial law at the federal and provincial level came to the fore when Information Minister Sharjeel Inam Memon gave the assurance to the house that the PPP, which is in a majority in the senate, would see to it that the Pakistan Protection Ordinance bill could not get through the senate.
He was responding to the point of order raised by Leader of the Opposition in the Sindh Assembly Syed Faisal Sabzwari who stated that the PPO was enforced in Karachi and that they had apprehension that no action would be taken against those involved in picking up others under this ‘black law’.
The information minister said: “Those who arrested MQM activists could be from federal agencies and in this regard they could ask Governor Ishratul Ibad being a representative of the federal government to take up the issue with the federal government,” he said. Yet, he added, by saying that the Sindh government did not absolve itself of its responsibility and would inquire about the agencies if involved in picking up the MQM workers.
He said action would be taken against the Rangers and police if any of them was found involved in such cases.
Mr Sabzwari through his point of order had drawn the attention of the house on Saturday night said that some armed people who had come in a double-cabin vehicle, without a number plate, raided a lawn in his constituency and took away five MQM workers without leaving a clue to or reasons of the arrests.
He asked the Sindh government to inform the house in which case they had been arrested and which agency had been involved in the action. He said that 45 MQM workers had been taken away in similar fashion in the past and their families had not been informed so far about their whereabouts. Six of them were later found dead, he added.
Mr Sabzwari said they had doubts that no action would be taken against those involved in picking up others under the ‘black law’ while the law was currently being used to arrest the people.
While the Taliban were being released by the government MQM workers were being rounded up without letting their families know about the charges against them, he said.
The information minister agreed to a point raised by PML-N Parliamentary Party leader Irfanullah Khan Marwat that despite the ongoing operation, targeted killings continued. He said the government had never made any claim that targeted killings had been stopped completely. The minster added that the law and order issue had been persisting in the city for the past many years though targeted killings, car theft and other robberies had come down since the launch of the operation.
Over the past week, however, there was a resurge in the incidents, the minister said, explaining that it emerged during the investigation of such cases by police and intelligence agencies that a particular group was targeting people from different sects, lawyers, doctors and political workers to create unrest under a conspiracy, he added.
The minister appealed to the people to try to understand the conspiracy and cooperate with the government to foil such evil designs.
Mr Marwat by his point of order informed the house that after the killing of a senior advocate belonging to his party, a senior worker of their party was killed. He asked if the government would continue to mourn the deaths and let innocent people get killed. He asked the government to share with the lawmakers what measures were being taken to check the killings.
In response to a point of order raised by lawmaker Mohammad Hussain about scarcity of water in Karachi’s district west as well as parts of central district, Mr Memon who is also local government minister said that the Hub dam had received less rains while the power utility despite having received millions of rupees had not provided connection to make reverse osmosis plants operational.
Khwaja Izahrul Hasan drew attention of the house towards an accident near Sehwan Sharif in which seven persons, including five children, were killed. He said despite his best efforts no police officail responded to his calls to inform him of what action had been taken against the driver. The information minister said it was a tragic incident and he had sought a report from the authorities concerned about it. As soon as he received it, he would inform the house, he added.
PPP lawmaker Sharmila Farooqui drew attention of the house towards her resolution, calling upon the federal government to ask for the release of Ali Haider Gilani, Shahbaz Taseer and Prof Ajmal Khan and other citizens from the Taliban with whom the government had been holding talks. She said that Maulana Yusuf Shah had disclosed that the government had not raised the issue with the Taliban so far. She urged the house to raise their voice for the release of innocent citizens under the custody of the Taliban.
Earlier, the three resolutions tabled one after the other when put to the house were unanimously passed.
The resolution tabled by Mahesh Kumar Malani condemned the ministry of health for dissolving the entire council of the PMDC and appreciated the Sindh High Court order for restraining the managing committee to act as PMDC council.
The second resolution tabled by Irum Azeem with joint signatures of a dozen of MQM lawmakers called for initiating compulsory vocational technical training in the juvenial jails in the province to make its inmates useful citizens.
The third resolution, tabled by Taimour Talpur with signatures of three other lawmakers, demanded immediate removal of all illegal outlets from main as well as branch canals and strict action be taken against beneficiary of the outlets and the irrigation officers concerned.
In response to the call attention notice of lawmaker Bilqees Mukhtar, Sindh Parliamentary Affairs Minister Dr Sikandar Mandhro said that the government would ensure that CNG stations fill gas in the approved cylinders only.
Replying to the call attention notice of Naila Munir, the minister said that two per cent quota of disabled persons in the departments had not been implemented properly so far.
About effluents diverting from a sugar mills in Obauro to the agriculture land, whose notice was given by Naheed Begum, Dr Mandhro informed the house that the land was given on lease by its owner Sharif Bhutto but it was against the rules and the government had closed down the sugar mills while taking measures that at the time of new sugarcane crushing season, it should not release untreated poisonous water into the fields.
He also said that that there were reports that factories in Punjab also were passing on the contaminated water into Sindh areas. This matter would be taken up at the government level with the Punjab government.
The information minister responding to the call attention notice of lawmaker Khurram Sherzaman informed the house that wine shops were meant only for non-Muslims and no one was allowed to drink alcohal at the wine shop or at any public place.
The privilege motion of Irfanullah Marwat was disposed of as the mover did not press for it while saying that the KMC administrator had visited him and offered an unconditional apology for not honouring his commitment to meet him in the office.
The adjournment motion of Nawab Taimour Talpur was ruled out by the chair as non-maintainable because the case of a pipe in the Mithrao canal was a sub judice matter.
The introduction and consideration of the government bill # 9 about the Sindh Coal Authority (Amendment) Bill 2014 was not taken up as it was withdrawn by the parliamentary minister. Similarly, the election of the standing and other committees, which was on the agenda, was deferred till Friday.
The house was called to order by Deputy Speaker Syeda Shehla Raza at 11.15am. The session continued for over one hour even after the completion of the agenda and the session was adjourned till Tuesday at 2.45pm when Senior Minister Nisar Ahmad Khuhro and the information minister drew to her attention that even if the point of order would be entertained after the completion of the business of the day, the assembly had to review inclusion of the provision of “call attention notice”.
The deputy speaker said that she was running the business as per item on the agenda and other business with the permission of the chair. However, observing indiscipline in the house, the chair called it a day.