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KARACHI: The issues of fake medicines being openly sold in the market and the pathetic conditions in the children ward of the Civil Hospital Karachi echoed in the Sindh Assembly on Tuesday.

A bill was also introduced in the house to ban manufacture, promotion and sale of gutka and mainpuri whose violator would be liable to imprisonment or a fine, or to both.

However, the expected move to bring a no-confidence motion against the “attitude” of Deputy Speaker Syeda Shehla Raza was deferred by the joint opposition to some other time in view of her restrained conduct in running the business of the house.

Unlike Monday’s disruption, the session on Tuesday, which was a private members’ day, turned out to be a disciplined affair. After the two-and-a-half-hour sitting, when the house rose for the day at 2.40pm to meet on Friday at 10 am, there was no enmity between members of the opposition and the treasury. This fact was acknowledged by the lawmakers from opposition parties when Nusrat Seher Abbasi of the PML-F, Sumeta Afzal of the MQM, Dr Seema Zia of the PTI and Sorath Thebo of the PML-N, representing their respective parties, told the media that in view of the “reformed attitude” of the chair the opposition had given another chance to the deputy speaker to “behave appropriately”. Waving a paper to the media, they said they had prepared their motion which would be submitted if, in future, she reverted to her “inappropriate” attitude against any member of the opposition.

‘Threatening’ deputy speaker escapes no-confidence motion

“We were compelled to initiate the motion as the deputy speaker’s attention used to be towards the treasury benches and [she] did not allow the opposition lawmakers to take up pressing issues in the house,” they said and added that they came to the assembly to take up public issues and not for personal matters.

Nusrat Abbasi said that only on Monday she told the house that “Nusrat is alone” but today she had witnessed that “all opposition is with us”.

Sumeta Afzal said all parties in the opposition were on the same page. Her behaviour with all members should be the same. After all, Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani also ran the house business without any complaints from any side.

Dr Seema Zia said the deputy speaker advised the opposition to study the rules of business though she herself should study the rules and stop favouring the treasury side as it was against the rules.

Sorath Thebo said that despite being a woman, her attitude was insulting. “If she does not mend her ways, we will not allow her to run the house,” he said.

PTI parliamentary leader Khurram Sher Zaman said that it was not the attitude of the deputy speaker but also of the Sindh government, which after failing to deliver did not like to see the opposition raise pressing public issues in the house.

Fake medicines in market

Earlier, after Question Hour the chair took up a point of order from Dewan Chand Chawla of the MQM who drew the attention of the house towards the open sale of fake medicines in the market. He said that in the name of antibiotic tablets people were being fleeced, as they were being charged Rs100 for a tablet/capsule of Rs10 which was being made by dubious pharmaceutical companies from substandard material imported from China and India.

He said the government should take serious notice of this and severe action be taken against sellers and manufacturers of fake medicines.

When the deputy speaker gave the floor to Khurram Sher Zaman of the PTI, he deplored the pathetic conditions he had found at the children’s ward in the Civil Hospital Karachi during his recent visit. He said more children were under treatment there than the provision as two to three newborns lay on one bed. He said the mothers told him that 70 per cent of medicines they had to buy from the medical stores outside the hospital.

The adjournment motion of Nusrat Abbasi, regarding a delay in the commencement of sugar cane crushing season and failing to fix the sugar cane rates, was termed out of order on technical grounds as the matter had already been discussed through calling-attention notices in the house. However, a resolution on the subject by Saeed Khan Nizamani of the PML-F was unanimously passed after an amendment.

The resolution said that the house resolved that the provincial government take steps to commence the sugar cane crushing season at the earliest.

Taking up private bill No. 5 of 2017, PPP MPA Rubina Saadat Qaimkhani introduced her ‘The Sindh Prohibition on Manufacture, Promotion and sale of Gutka and Mainpuri bill, 2017’. If the bill is passed by the house, the manufacture and sale of gutka and mainpuri would be totally banned and violation of the law would be punishable with imprisonment up to seven years or fine up to Rs100,000, or both.

Aid for earthquake victims demanded

The house adopted a resolution tabled by Ghazala Sial of the PPP. Through the resolution the house expressed its solidarity with the victims of Monday’s earthquake in Iran and Iraq.

The resolution also demanded that the federal government dispatch aid for the affected people immediately.

Another resolution, calling upon the provincial government to appoint female teachers in primary schools for better results in the province, was adopted after adding “gradually” to it.

Senior Minister Nisar Ahmad Khuhro said it was not possible to remove male teachers from primary schools. Besides, in far-off places where women teachers could not serve, male teachers had to be posted.

A resolution of Khairunnisa Mughal, demanding that the provincial government make a law for domestic workers’ protection, was referred to the standing committee on labour for consideration.

Published in Dawn, November 15th, 2017