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Ruckus in Balochistan Assembly as members trade barbs

Published Jun 19, 2017 07:08am

QUETTA: Pandemonium broke out in the Balochistan Assembly on Sunday when two members belonging to parties in the province’s coalition government exchanged harsh words during debate on the budget for 2017-18.

The ministers and members belonging to the National Party (NP) staged a walkout in protest against ‘harsh’ remarks made by Agha Liaquat Ali of the Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) against their colleague Khalid Langove. The NP lawmakers asked Mr Ali to tender an apology.

The uproar erupted in the house after the speech of Mr Langove. He said that Rs3,000 million had been allocated only for Qila Abdullah district.

Supplementary budget for outgoing year approved

On the other hand, he added, though he had surrendered Rs220m development funds for his constituency allocated for the outgoing year, instead of reallocating the amount he had set aside only Rs4m for it.

He said that Assistant Chief Secretary (development) Omar Babar was so powerful that he had managed to secure allocation of Rs300m for only three police stations, Rs300m for small dams and other allocations of Rs130m for the same area. Mr Langove termed it an unjust allocation of funds.

The NP legislator said that the government had allocated Rs650m for the Residential College in Loralai but only Rs200m for a similar project in Kalat and termed it an act of discrimination against Kalat.

He said that the planning and development department frequently reduced funds allocated for schools, cold storage plants and small dams and added that he had made complaints in this regard but to no avail.

He said that Planning and Develop­ment Minister Dr Hamid Khan Achakzai was not willing to talk to anyone. “He is not paying heed to our complaints and, despite extending assurances, has done nothing to solve our problems.”

On this Mr Ali stood up, criticised the speech of Mr Langove and uttered some harsh remarks that stirred uproar in the house. An exchange of harsh and objectionable words between Mr Langove and Mr Ali ensued and other members also stood up and started speaking.

Speaker Rahila Durrani closed the mikes of the members and expunged the objectionable remarks made by the two members from the record of the proceedings.

Sardar Aslam Bizenjo and Rehmat Baloch of the NP alleged that the additional chief secretary had managed to get huge funds allocated only for one union council.

“If bureaucracy is so powerful then there is no need for the elected representatives to sit in the house,” Mr Bizenjo said.

The NP members, led by Mr Bizenjo, staged a walkout, saying that they would not return to the house until the PkMAP lawmaker withdrew his remarks.

However, later on the directives of the speaker, Home Minister Sarfarz Bugti, Sardar Abdul Rehman Khetran, Asim Kurd and Manzoor Kakar brought the NP members back to the house.

Taking the floor, Parliamentary Leader of the PkMAP Abdul Rahim Ziaratwal apologised for the remarks made by Mr Ali and said that efforts would be made to solve problems the members pointed out in the house.

Balochistan Chief Minister Nawab Sanaullah Zehri expressed concern over the unpleasant situation created in the house due to the exchange of hot words between the two members of the coalition parties.

“We should honour Baloch-Pakhtun traditions and should not pass remarks which hurt any member of the assembly,” he said.

He said that when Opposition Leader Maulana Abdul Wasey concluded his speech criticising the government, “I also thumped my desk to appreciate his speech”.

He said that the members should tolerate criticism from each other with open heart. However, criticism should be constructive and the members should also give suggestions about the problems they are pointing out.

Chief Minister Zehri said, “We are noting all points raised by the members during the budget session and would respond to them when I will sum up the debate”.

The assembly approved the supplementary budget of Rs49.66 billion for the outgoing fiscal 2015-16.

Finance Minister Aslam Bizenjo moved 19 demands for grant. Of them, 12 demands for grants of Rs35.40bn were for development expenditure and seven of Rs14.26bn for non-development expenditures.

The house passed the supplementary budget after a brief discussion.

Published in Dawn, June 19th, 2017