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KARACHI: Amid “Go Zardari go” slogans, the combined opposition in the Sindh Assembly continued its protest on Tuesday and boycotted the proceedings after staging a walkout in protest over the rejection of a resolution against non-release of funds for the opposition legislators’ approved schemes in their constituencies.

Before the walkout, the house witnessed pandemonium when opposition lawmakers tore copies of the agenda and threw the same on the floor, surrounded the speaker’s rostrum and staged a sit-in there for about 45 minutes amid loud slogans such as “No to corruption” and “Go Zardari go”, etc.

Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s Dr Zafar Kamali moved his private resolution on Tuesday, which is a private members’ day, in which he condemned the government attitude for failing to release funds for execution of their approved schemes in their respective constituencies under the Community Development Programme 2016-17.

He said that the government was avoiding executing development schemes in 73 constituencies of the opposition lawmakers. He alleged that the PPP government discriminated between urban and rural areas.

PPP lawmaker utters inappropriate remarks in the house

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s Sorath Thebo supported the resolution. She regretted that Senior Minister Nisar Khuhro on Monday levelled a baseless allegation against her regarding getting funds for the schemes.

Mr Khuhro also expressed regret for hurting her feelings and said that he wanted to say that last year Ms Thebo was given funds for the schemes.

When Deputy Speaker Syeda Shehla Raza gave the floor to treasury lawmakers, the opposition MPAs objected to it and said that their other members also wanted to speak. However, the chair refused and put the resolution to a vote.

As the PPP — on the basis of its numeric majority — rejected the resolution, opposition lawmakers stood on their seats and started a noisy protest that led to their walkout.

Taking advantage of their absence, the chair gave floor to PPP ministers and members from the treasury benches, who strongly criticised the opposition and termed their protest an attempt to save Nawaz Sharif.

As the chair relaxed rules, Minister Sohail Anwar Siyal tabled a resolution through which the speaker was asked to take up with the Election Commission of Pakistan the issue of redistribution of seats reserved for women and minorities in the assembly in proportion to the strength of each party as the strength of various parties either increased or decreased as a result of by-elections.

Amid opposition’s absence, the resolution, when put to a vote, was easily carried.

The chair after completing the order of the day also gave floor to former minister Sharjeel Inam Memon and Minister Manzoor Wassan to take up their points of order.

Mr Memon said that the Unnar gas field was located in his constituency but local residents were being ignored in employment and those employed for the past 15 years were not being regularised.

He said unfortunately the attitude of the federal government with Sindh was based on prejudice. He said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was running the affairs of the country like his Ittefaq Foundry and wanted to have full control over all state institutions.

He said the Pakistan Steel Mills was being sold to Indian steel magnate Sajjan Jindal under a conspiracy. “But the people of Sindh will never allow Nawaz Sharif to [sell] this gift of Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto,” he added.

Referring to a recent ‘secret’ meeting between the PM and Mr Jindal in Murree, he asked all political parties to ponder whether it was a ‘conspiracy’ to weaken the federation.

He also warned against testing the patience of the people of Sindh by depriving them of water, electricity and gas.

Minister Wassan said that four gas fields were located in Khairpur and Nara Tehsil gas field contributed 25 per cent of the total 75pc gas production in Sindh. But local peoples were being ignored in employment at the cost of some feudal lords, who collected monthly booty of Rs40-50 million.

He said Sindh generated 68pc of the total revenue of the country and two of the 18 towns in Karachi — Keamari and Bin Qasim — generated the total revenue of Karachi. He lamented that in return the people of Sindh were being denied clean drinking water, gas and electricity, increasing the sense of deprivation.

After Mr Wassan’s point of order, the chair adjourned the session till May 12.

Earlier, the adjournment motion of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf MPA Khurram Sherzaman regarding outbreak of chikungunya in Karachi was opposed by Health Minister Dr Sikander Mandhro. The minister said that the government was quite aware of its responsibilities and not a single person had died from this disease so far and its patients were being looked after properly.

Mehtab Akbar Rashdi of the PML-Functional wanted to move a motion regarding reports of cheating in the ongoing examination. However, she was not allowed by the chair.

During the opposition’s protest, many treasury members lost their cool. Minister Imdad Pitafi forgot he was speaking in the assembly and passed an inappropriate remark against PM Nawaz Sharif. However, when the opposition boycotted the session, he stood on his seat and asked the chair to expunge his remarks.

Published in Dawn, May 10th, 2017