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PTI walkout, new province controversy mar jubilant PA session

April 28, 2015

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Leader of the Opposition Shaharyar Mahar voices concerns over his security, during the Sindh Assembly session on Monday.—Online
Leader of the Opposition Shaharyar Mahar voices concerns over his security, during the Sindh Assembly session on Monday.—Online

KARACHI: The Sindh Assembly, which met on Monday after a break of nine days, carried out its entire business from the day’s agenda smoothly in a congenial atmosphere that was marred towards the end of the session due to a walkout staged by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf lawmakers and the controversy over the Muttahida Qaumi Movement chief’s demand for more administrative units in the province.

Besides, Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani also warned the house about security threats to the assembly and called for making foolproof security arrangements in this regard. On this occasion, Leader of the Opposition in the Sindh Assembly Shaharyar Mahar also complained of not being provided security cover despite threats faced by him.

During the day, the assembly passed into law the Sindh Service Tribunals (second amendment) Bill, 2015 by which the period of its chairman and two members has been reduced to two from three years. Their appointments will be made with the consultation of the chief justice of the Sindh High Court.

Earlier, the Indus University of Health Sciences Bill, 2015 was introduced in the house. The Thar Development Authority Bill, 2015 and The Kohistan Development Authority Bill, 2015 were referred to the standing committees concerned with the recommendations that their reports be submitted to the house within 15 days. The house also agreed to incorporate into the Postgraduate College of Medical Sciences Sindh Bill, 2014 the suggestions given by the governor.

The adjournment motion regarding the Sindh government decision not to accept the new energy policy of the federal government was not pressed by its movers MQM lawmakers Heer Soho and Naheed Begum after the assurance from Parliamentary Affairs Minister Dr Sikander Mandhro that whether it was a matter of LNG import or any other issue, nothing would be accepted if it was against the interest of Sindh.

The assembly also adopted with consensus a resolution tabled by PPP lawmaker Nusrat Sultana and others extending greetings to PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari on holding a successful public meeting in Lyari on Sunday.

PTI legislators staged a walkout from the assembly for not being allowed to respond to the views expressed by MQM deputy parliamentary leader Khawaja Izhar-ul-Hasan about the party’s victory in the recent NA-246 by-poll.

Speaking on his point of order, Mr Hasan extended greetings to the PPP for organising a grand successful public meeting in Lyari on April 26 and said the month of April was a milestone in the political history of Pakistan. On April 23, he said, a new chapter was written when MQM candidate Kanwar Naveed Jamil emerged victorious by bagging over 95,000 votes in the most transparent and non-controversial by-elections conducted in NA-246. Hearing these remarks, MQM lawmakers raised slogans of “Jiye Altaf”. He said that the people recognized the Quaid-i-Azam’s Pakistan on April 23 by rejecting the idea of a new Pakistan. The people of Karachi also rejected the politics of accusations and the use of foul language along with extremist wings of the political parties and the Taliban, he said.

He expressed gratitude to the Election Commission of Pakistan, the Sindh government and the law enforcement agencies over the arrangements, including the deployment of Rangers personnel in and around polling stations, which exposed the popularity of MQM opponents. But he said MQM chief Altaf Hussain had always been against the politics of accusations and hatred that should come to an end.

Leader of the Opposition Shaharyar Mahar congratulated the MQM on their victory in the by-election and appreciated the role of the law enforcement agencies, the Rangers in particular, in providing security to the voters. Their performance, he said, proved that the ongoing operation was not against any particular party but against criminals.

Senior Minister Nisar Ahmad Khuhro also congratulated the party over the election victory and quoted of PPP’s founder that people’s verdict is final as power flows from the people. The Sindh government appreciates the performance of the Election Commission and the law-enforcement agencies. “We want the same old Pakistan where there was no nepotism but peace and tranquility everywhere.”

PTI lawmaker Khurram Sherzaman while greeting the MQM on its victory and praising the law enforcement agencies asked the party why PTI camps were attacked, stones were hurled at women and elderly workers of the PTI and their supporters were harassed and baton-charged. The remarks agitated the MQM lawmakers many of whom rose from their benches and started speaking simultaneously. The speaker asked them to take back their seats. Addressing Mr Sherzaman, the speaker said the election was over as people had given their verdict but when his mike was switched off, PTI lawmakers staged a walkout for not being allowed to speak on the matter.

Information Minister Sharjeel Inam Memon getting the floor greeted the MQM on the victory and said the Sindh government, Rangers, police and the Election Commission also deserved appreciation for their role in holding free and transparent elections. However, he advised PTI chief Imran Khan to avoid using foul language, as people could react to criticism beyond limits. About the Sunday programme in Lyari, he said it was a historic meeting for which the PPP leadership deserved greetings. The public meeting once again proved the PPP and the Bhutto’s strong relationship with the people of Lyari, he said.

He said it was during the Musharraf regime that drugs and gang warfare was introduced in Lyari to bring bad name to the people of Lyari and tarnish the image of peaceful Lyari. He paid tribute to the police and the other law-enforcement agencies for purging Lyari of anti-social elements. Sunday’s meeting was a befitting response to those who were never tired of indulging in negative propaganda against the PPP, he said.

PML-F legislator Mehtab Akbar Rashdi said greetings were being extended but some people in celebrating their victory in NA-246 once again started talking about administrative division of Sindh. This is matter of most concern for every resident of Sindh, she said. Why the people who used to raise the slogan of “Mervesoon, Sindh na Desoon” were silent at this, she said. If their silence was to be considered their consent to the demand, she asked.

MQM parliamentary party leader Syed Sardar Ahmad said that Altaf Hussain had talked about the common perception of the people and had demanded that administrative units be carved within the limits of geography and the constitution. “It’s never been the intention of MQM chief and our party to divide Sindh,” he added.

Responding to the issue, PPP parliamentary party leader Nisar Khuhro said it was a very sensitive matter and no one would remain silent on this. He recalled that the Sindh Assembly had already passed a resolution with consensus that the division of Sindh would not be acceptable in any circumstances. This is the same assembly that had passed the Pakistan Resolution and the PPP stood by the slogan of “Mervesoon, Mervesoon, Sindh Na Desoon”, Mr Khuhro said. He questioned the renewed demand for the administrative units and said the division and districts were administrative units. He requested the MQM leadership not to raise such controversies, as Sindh is one and will remain one entity.

Khawaja Izhar-ul-Hasan said that different slogans were raised on such occasions of celebrations but the critics should note that the MQM had signed the resolution about one entity of Sindh tabled last time in the assembly. Some people who wanted to see themselves in headlines raised such issues repeatedly, he said, while pleading for providing equal facilities in every district without any discrimination.

Published in Dawn, April 28th, 2015

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