KARACHI: The Sindh Assembly echoed with “Go Zardari go” slogans on Monday when lawmakers belonging to all opposition parties in the house lodged a strong protest, tore the copies of the agenda and staged a sit-in in front of the speaker’s rostrum against the government for not releasing development funds in their respective constituencies.
It was for the first time that the opposition lawmakers shouted slogans against PPP-Parliamentarians president Asif Zardari. This clearly upset the ministers and members sitting on treasury benches and Deputy Speaker Syeda Shehla Raza, who was chairing the session, asked the opposition members not to take the name of any party chief.
Despite ruling from the chair for order in the house, the disturbance continued and amid loud slogans against corruption and the government the opposition lawmakers converged in front of the rostrum of the speaker where some sat down to stage a sit-in.
The chair attempted to restore order in the house by adjourning the business for 10 minutes at 1.15pm. During the break, Senior Minister Nisar Khuhro and some other PPP lawmakers tried to pacify the opposition.
But when the house resumed business, the parliamentary party leader of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, Syed Sardar Ahmad, asked the chair that the opposition lawmakers, through their call attention notices, only wanted to point out that development funds were not being released for schemes in their constituencies. “Asking for funds for their constituencies is not a bad thing,” he added.
However, the chair said the assembly rules did not allow it and she would not allow anyone to talk about it. “If you don’t agree with the Rules of Business better tear [the] book and throw it away,” she said.
Her remarks infuriated the opposition, which started shouting slogans, tore the copies of the agenda and threw it on the floor.
In response to the “Go Zardari Go” slogans, the PPP lawmakers also raised “Go Nawaz Go” slogans.
Mr Khuhro said that such slogans could not save Nawaz Sharif. He also slammed MQM legislators and said they should realise that no Pervez Musharraf would come to their rescue and to concede to their every demand.
The uproar was so intense that the chair called it a day at 1.40pm to meet on Tuesday.
Earlier, when the house was called to order at 11.30am after a two-day break the situation was already tense.
Inquiry into custodial death
Mohammad Hussain of the MQM asked about the inquiry relating to the custodial death of a party worker, who died in the Karachi central prison a couple of days ago. As Prisons Minister Zia Lanjar was not present, the chair asked the MQM to wait for him and he would give his report after the Question Hour.
However, while MQM lawmakers tried to speak the chair ignored them and moved to Question Hour by giving the floor to PML-F lawmaker Nusrat Saher Abbasi.
Instead of lodging a forceful protest, the MQM lawmakers staged a token walkout in protest over the deputy speaker’s attitude.
After Question Hour, the chair gave the floor to Mr Hussain to read out his call attention notice seeking answer from the finance minister for not releasing Rs40 million as approved for the constituency of each MPA under the Community Development Programme (CDP) to any of the opposition legislators for implementing schemes in their constituencies.
He said the total amount of the CDP was Rs8.5 billion for all 168 MPAs and the opposition’s share stood at Rs2.88bn. However, none of the opposition MPAs had been paid a single penny for implementing any scheme in their constituency, he added.
The chair asked him not to make a political speech and restrict himself to his call attention notice only. Her remarks provoked the opposition lawmakers, who rose from their seats and wanted to speak but the deputy speaker warned Mr Hussain that if he did not like to speak on his call attention notice, she would move ahead.
Senior Minister Khuhro, who was given the floor, explained the procedure of the adoption of schemes and said that in every constituency a 15-person committee recommended to the deputy commissioner concerned the schemes required in their area and after approval of its PC-1 the funds were released on the reports of the commissioner. This procedure was being followed for implementing development schemes in the province, he added.
The uproar, however, continued but the chair ignored the protest and gave floor to Ms Abbasi of the PML-F. However, she also started complaining about the lack of release of funds to the opposition lawmakers for their development schemes.
Her complaint infuriated the chair who said the policy statement of Mr Khuhro was more than enough and now she would not allow anyone to make political speeches through their call attention notices.
She gave the floor to MQM’s Sabir Kaimkhani and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s Dr Seema Zia, but opposition lawmakers continued their protest while chanting “Go Zardari Go” slogans.
During the disturbance, the chair gave the floor to PTI’s Khurram Sherzaman to speak on his adjournment motion regarding leaking of intermediate examination papers in Karachi. However, Education Minister Jam Mehtab Dahar opposed the motion.
Published in Dawn, May 9th, 2017