KARACHI: The Muttahida Qaumi Movement on Tuesday staged a walkout from the Sindh Assembly against the rejection of its motions in the speaker’s chamber before any discussion in the house and for not being allowed to speak.
“We have decided to stage a token walkout every day against this discriminatory attitude with the opposition in the current session,” said Leader of the Opposition Khwaja Izharul Hassan just before leading the walkout in protest over the rejection of his adjournment motion against “polluted and poisonous water supply to the people in Sukkur”. However, lawmakers belonging to the other opposition parties, namely the PML-F, PML-N and PTI did not join their MQM colleagues, save for the PTI’s Khurram Sherzaman.
In response to the observation of leader of the opposition, Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani said: “If your motions will not be as per rules of business, the motions [will be] killed in the chamber. I have not framed these rules but [these rules have been framed] by the entire house,” the speaker added.
Tuesday was a private members’ day in the assembly. But the session could not begin before 11.45am for want of quorum.
After recitation from Quran and Fateha for the departed souls, Speaker Durrani was yet to take up the Question Hour when leader of the opposition, rising on a point of order, drew attention of the chair that his adjournment motion pertaining to the supply of “polluted and poisonous water to the people in Sukkur” was rejected in the chamber.
Mr Hassan, who had brought two bottles filled with water to the house, kept them on his table and showed them to the chair.
Speaker Durrani asked the opposition leader from which gutter he had brought this water. Perhaps this water was given to him by legislators from Sukkur Deewan Chand Chawla and Saleem Bandhani, he added.
Mr Hassan said he had recently paid a visit to Sukkur where local people had given him these bottles of water. In an emotional speech, he said that the government should allow him to take up the adjournment motion or the ministers and other members on the treasury benches would have to drink this water. “If our motions are continuously rejected and we are not allowed to speak in the house, we will stage a daily walkout from the house during the current session. We have lodged protest earlier also.”
The speaker said the opposition members outside the house had passed extremely objectionable remarks, which was quite regrettable. Mr Hassan said that whenever the chair wanted to facilitate the government side, he softened the rules. But in the case of the opposition his attitude was quite different, he added.
Mr Durrani said: “I don’t take dictation from the government and run the house proceedings as per rules of business.” He advised the opposition that if they had any issue, they should sit with the ministers and sort it out.
‘No contact with govt’
The opposition leader said that they had no contact with the government for the past eight months, nor any negotiations had been held. He said their long-standing demand for the formation of the house business advisory committee was never met.
Taking the floor from the speaker, Sindh Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Nisar Khuhro intervened to say that as far as the business of the assembly was concerned they were accountable to the speaker. He said at the federal level both government and opposition legislators often met in the chamber of the speaker and decided the issues with mutual consent. The same practice could be followed here as well, he added.
Mr Khuhro said the rules regarding adjournment motions were quite clear, as there is a chapter on conditions to bring an adjournment motion for consideration in the house.
However, Mr Hassan quipped: “We are not convinced that if children are dying by drinking poisonous water in Sukkur, it is neither an important and nor an urgent issue”.
Before staging a walkout, he said if the time consumed in the arguments had been given to discuss his adjournment motion, there would have been some good outcome of it to mitigate the problem.
Mr Durrani said: “Today is a private members’ day. I was sitting in my chamber since 10am till quarter to 12 inquiring from my staff if there was quorum in the house.”
He said being present in the house on time was the responsibility of all the lawmakers.
The other business, which was taken up for consideration by the house, included private bill of The Ilma University, 2016. After its introduction by Kulsoom Akhtar Chandio of the PPP, Mr Khuhro said he would not oppose it. From the opposition side, Khwaja Izhar, MQM parliamentary party leader Syed Sardar Ahmad and PTI parliamentary leader Samar Ali Khan initially suggested to either refer it to the standing committee or defer its consideration for two to three days to have time to go through the bill. But later they agreed to take the bill into consideration immediately to avoid undue delay. During clause-by-clause reading, Mr Khuhro suggested amendment to Clause 17 for nomination of two members of the house on the board of governors by the speaker. With the accommodation of the amendment, the bill was passed into law.
Before the speaker called it a day at 2.40 pm to reassemble on Friday at 10am, the two private resolutions whose notices were given by Dr Zafar Ahmad Khan Kamali of the MQM to upgrade cardiac ward of Mirpurkhas Hospital as an institute of cardiovascular diseases was rejected on technical ground when the health minister said the hospital ward could not be upgraded to an institute.
However, as per government policy, the ward could be upgraded to have facility for angioplasty, angiography and surgery.
Similarly the resolution of Kamran Akhtar of MQM to establish a cadet college in Karachi was also rejected by the house when the education minister said it was not correct to say that there was no cadet college in Karachi, as two cadet colleges had been established in Gadap and Razzaqabad.
Published in Dawn, April 19th, 2017