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KARACHI: The demand for the ‘Karachi province’ once again echoed in the provincial assembly during the general discussion on Rs1.42 trillion Sindh budget for the year 2017-18 on Tuesday which was immediately responded to by the treasury benches, reminding the proponents of the demand that Sindh cannot be divided.

While the house was called to order at 12.15pm, 75 minutes behind the scheduled time of 11am, 23 lawmakers — 14 from the treasury side and nine from the joint opposition — did get the opportunity to participate in the general discussion on the budget.

From the opposition benches, Muttahida Qaumi Movement lawmakers Naela Muneer, Qamar Abbas Rizvi, Kamran Akhtar, Kamran Farooqui, Hargun Das Ahuja, Saifuddin Khalid and Mohammad Hussain, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf legislator Samar Ali Khan and Pakistan Muslim League-Functional lawmaker Nand Kumar participated in the discussion.

From the treasury benches, PPP lawmakers Ghulam Qadir Chandio, Aurangzeb Panhwar, Sardar Saleem Raza Jalbani, Owais Qadir Shah, Shahid Thaheem, Abdul Karim Soomro, Imtiaz Shaikh, Mir Allah Bux Talpur, Mohammad Ali Malkani, Sardar Ali Shah, Mumtaz Jakhrani, Sohail Anwar Siyal, Imdad Pitafi and Jam Khan Shoro took part in the discussion.

Criticising the PPP government, the opposition lawmakers said the government, despite being in power for the past nine years and spending billions of rupees on development schemes, failed to make any improvement in any field of life.

Terming the budget ‘anti-people’, the lawmakers said the pressing problems of water shortage, power loadshedding, public transport, health and educational facilities were still there. After spending such huge development funds, their impact on urban or rural life was not visible, they said.

The lawmakers from the treasury side, however, termed the budget “historic” citing that development projects were being completed not only in cities but also villages by laying a network of concrete roads, health centres and other basic amenities.

Initiating the discussion, MQM lawmaker Naela Munir said Karachi generates 70 per cent revenue of the country, yet those at the helm of affairs doled out only 3.5 per cent of the budget with the result that problems were piling up. In this situation, if someone even talked about making Karachi a province, the other side had objections to it, she added.

PPP lawmaker Ghulam Qadir Chandio said the opposition had been “thankless” as despite making a living in Sindh they talked about a separate province at the first opportunity. He also criticised the PTI saying that revolution was not ushered in by dancing to music.

This drew strong reaction from PTI leader Samar Ali Khan who protested against the remarks and got support from the opposition which raised slogans of shame, shame.

MQM lawmaker Kamran Farooqui recalling hardships being faced by people said if needed, more provinces would be created in the country but no one would be allowed to break the country. Syed Sardar Ali Shah referring to the issue of Karachi said it was a settled matter that Sindh could not be divided.

Recalling the achievement of his department in the cultural field he said that the Sindh government did not like to get Hindu Gymkhana vacated from the National Academy of Performing Arts but was constructing another gymkhana in Hyderabad. He said that in the country “financial One Unit” had been created.

Published in Dawn, June 14th, 2017