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KARACHI: Lawmakers belonging to the Muttahida Qaumi Movement staged a token walkout from the Sindh Assembly on Monday in protest against what they called “rigging” in the by-election on a local government constituency in Sukkur.

Before the Sindh Assembly, which resume its business after a two-day break, took up its formal business from the agenda, Leader of the Opposition Khwaja Izharul Hasan of the MQM rose from his seat to draw the attention of Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani towards threats being given to MQM candidates who contested the by-election in Sukkur.

According to unofficial results, the MQM candidate had emerged victorious in the April 13 election in Sukkur. Khwaja Izhar said that he returned from Sukkur only a day ago and was told that the winning candidate of the MQM was being threatened.

He said that the election result was being changed and rigging was being carried out after ‘hijacking’ the election commission there. The deputy commissioner concerned, who is also the district returning officer, was being pressured to change the result, he added.

He said that his party was staging a token walkout from the house against the “rigging”.

Interrupting him, Speaker Durrani said that he ought to lodge a protest or stage walkout against the Election Commission of Pakistan as the house had nothing to do with the elections or the rigging.

However, all MQM legislators left the house for a token walkout.

Senior Minister Nisar Khuhro said that he received some reports that there had been clashes in Sukkur during the by-election and the ECP had ordered re-polling.

After recording their protest, the lawmakers returned to the house and took part in the house business.

Censure motion against PTI lawmaker

The house unanimously adopted a censure motion against Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf lawmaker Khurram Sherzaman after he refused to tender an apology for calling the house ‘Do number’, or fake.

The motion was tabled by Senior Minister Khuhro as the house took notice of the objectionable remarks of Mr Sherzaman, who on Friday boycotted the session over deferring of the Question Hour and told reporters that this assembly was fake (Do number).

The speaker and Mr Khuhro pressed the PTI lawmaker to extend a clear apology to the house about his remarks, but he expressed only regrets instead of extending an apology.

Soon after the house was called to order at 2.45pm, Speaker Durrani drew the attention of the house to the fact that one of the members had termed the assembly Do number.

“What more insult could [there] be of the house other than the remarks?” he asked.

Mr Khuhro recalled that a censure motion was passed against him when he, as the leader of the opposition in the assembly, had passed some remarks about a minister.

Speaker Durrani asked the parliamentary party leader of the PTI, Samar Ali Khan, whether he too was Do number, being one of the members of the house. He also asked MQM’s Saifuddin Khalid whether he was Aik number (genuine) or Do number (fake).

Mr Khan said the remarks Mr Sherzaman had uttered were because of his frustration as the opposition was not often allowed to take up issues in the house.

“We ought to remember that it is the same assembly whose resolution created Pakistan and we all are sitting in the house because of this assembly,” replied the speaker.

Mir Nadir Khan Magsi of the PPP tried to settle the issue with mutual understanding, asking the treasury benches to show patience. He urged the PTI lawmaker to extend an apology to the house.

Mr Sherzaman, however, asked the government to extend an apology on its ‘misdeeds’ first. “I could only extend regrets on my remarks,” he added.

The speaker asked Mr Khuhro to table the censure motion, which was unanimously passed.

The censure motion said that Mr Sherzaman had hurt the sanctity of the house and feelings of all members, therefore this house unanimously passed the censure motion.

Published in Dawn, April 18th, 2017