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KARACHI: An occasion to felicitate newly-elected Jam Madad Ali — who has been re-elected from a Sanghar constituency on the ticket of the Pakistan Peoples Party — was used by members of the treasury benches in the Sindh Assembly to heap scorn on the opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Functional on Tuesday.

Jam Madad had quit the PML-F and resigned from his assembly seat to join the PPP and contest the election afresh from the platform of his new party. He won the April 20 by-election from PS-81 (Sanghar).

On Tuesday, Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani administered oath to Jam Madad. Though it was a private members’ day, no private business from the order of the day was taken up because speeches, mainly from the treasury side, to felicitate the newly-elected MPA continued till 2pm when the chair adjourned the house till Friday.

While some PPP lawmakers delivered quite emotional speeches and passed provocative remarks against the PML-F leadership, accusing them of indulging in rigging in past elections, the chair did not allow any of the PML-F’s lawmakers to respond.

Chair does not let PML-F’s lawmakers respond

The PPP lawmakers claimed that whenever ‘fair’ elections were conducted, the party had proved its majority in Sanghar. PML-F’s Nusrat Sehar Abbasi and Saeed Khan Nizamani shouted “shame, shame” in an attempt to counter the accusations.

At one point during his felicitation speech, Senior Minister Nisar Khuhro asked Leader of the Opposition Khwaja Izharul Hasan to ask Ms Abbasi to stop disrupting members’ speeches.

The opposition leader drew the attention of Deputy Speaker Syeda Shehla Raza, who was presiding over the session, to also provide an opportunity to the opposition to speak.

Jam’s ‘gratitude’

Earlier, Jam Madad Ali expressed gratitude to the PPP leadership, its workers and his supporters for reposing their confidence in him.

He said he already had wasted a lot of time in the previous party as he failed to deliver to the people of his constituency. “But now I am part of a big party and I hope I will be able serve my people in a better way.”

Provincial Minister Manzoor Wassan greeted the MPA and said that Sanghar had always been a fort of the PPP but during successive dictatorial rules “our mandate was stolen through rigged polls”.

He said this time due to the presence of the Rangers, the election was conducted in a transparent manner and the PPP carried the day with majority.

Mr Wassan claimed that a reserved seat belonging to the PML-F was about to fall vacant because the party strength in the house had been reduced.

PPP’s Nawab Taimoor Talpur also seconded him and said that some members from the reserved seats should prepare to go home because their party’s strength in the house had come down.

Fayyaz Butt said that a wrong impression had been portrayed that Khairpur and Sanghar districts were the PML-F’s strongholds. But the re-election of Imtiaz Shaikh and Jam Madad Ali on the ticket of the PPP had proved that PPP was the only popular party in Sindh, he added.

The deputy speaker during speeches advised the lawmakers to limit themselves to greetings and also directed the secretary of the assembly to expunge all objectionable remarks from the proceedings, including the name of the party leadership and the state institutions.

Khuhro’s remarks

But, Nisar Khuhro stood from his seat and said: “There is no sacrosanct person or institution, whether the returning officer or the army or any other person. We used to condemn the martial law.”

He asked the deputy speaker not to repeatedly ask the secretary to expunge objectionable remarks. He said it was the right of a member to express his/her opinion openly about anyone. “Whoever would snatch our mandate and attempt to usurp the rights of people, we would mention his name,” he added.

He said it was no secret how the elections used to be won in the past in Sanghar.

Opposition leader Khwaja Izhar said that one should celebrate the election victory but it was inappropriate to mention the name of party leadership in speeches.

He asked the deputy speaker that besides members from the treasury benches others lawmakers should also be provided an opportunity to speak. The deputy speaker said after speeches from the treasury benches she would also allow the opposition members to speak.

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s Samar Ali Khan said winning and losing was part of politics but becoming personal was shameful.

PPP’s Imdad Pitafi said Jam Madad’s victory was a slap on the face of the party’s opponents and if they have any conscience they should resign from the assembly. Otherwise, he said, he would ask the election commission to revisit the merit list and decide the number of MPAs from the reserved seats keeping in view the strength of the PML-F members in the house.

Mumtaz Jakhrani and Shamim Mumtaz also spoke.

After the session, Ms Abbasi of the PML-F told media outside the assembly that her party’s candidate in Sanghar by-election was defeated because of rigging.

Heer Soho of the MQM said that the PML-F should have been given the opportunity to speak in the house.

Published in Dawn, April 26th, 2017