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KARACHI: The Sindh Assembly session hardly lasted half an hour on Friday as after a boycott by three of the four opposition parties — the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz — the proceedings became lacklustre.

When PPP MPA Ghazala Sial, who was given the floor to participate in the general discussion on quarterly reports of budget execution 2016-17, requested the chair to allow her to conclude her speech on Monday, the speaker adjourned the session till Monday at 11.50am.

Earlier the opposition legislators staged a walkout in protest when soon after the house was called to order at 11.20am by Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani, Senior Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Nisar Khuhro told the speaker that as the house had started late enough today, he had consulted the opposition and the Question Hour and other business should be deferred till Monday.

He said it was Friday and they had to go to attend the death anniversary of former chief minister Abdullah Shah and the house business had to be concluded early. The minister added that he be allowed to move the motion to defer the business except the general discussion on the budget.

The opposition lawmakers protested over the suggestion.

The chair ignoring the protest asked the minister to move his motion.

The motion was tabled and passed with majority amidst the opposition’s protest.

“If you don’t want to hear the opposition, we are going to boycott the house,” Mohammed Aamir Moeen Pirzada of MQM told the speaker.

The chair, without recognising him, named MPAs to start discussion on the second day on quarterly reports of the budget.

The speaker mentioned the names one after the other — all from the MQM as were listed as participants in the budget discussion.

But he got no response from the vacant opposition benches.

After the boycott, commenting on the opposition, Senior Minister Khuhro said he had talked to the opposition legislators to keep the business short as they had to attend the death anniversary of Abdullah Shah, but the proceedings could not be started earlier for want of quorum.

He said if there would be a criticism on the budget execution, the treasury benches would respond and if no one wanted to participate in the discussion, the speaker should adjourn the session.

But as Ghazala Sial’s name was on the list of speakers, the chair gave her the floor. In her speech she congratulated the government for proper execution of the budget during the last two quarters.

After the house was adjourned, MQM’s Aamir Moeen Pirzada addressing the media announced that if the opposition was not allowed to take up the pressing issues of the people in the house, they would have to formulate a new strategy.

PTI’s Khurram Sherzaman criticised the speaker saying he did not listen to the opposition.

Published in Dawn, April 15th, 2017