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KARACHI: The Sindh Assembly was on Monday informed that the provincial government was planning to repair, restore, renovate and preserve the historic Mughal-era Shahjahan Masjid in Thatta.

Culture, Tourism and Antiquities Minister Sardar Shah said this in response to a calling-attention notice of Thatta MPA Syed Ameer Hyder Shah Sheerazi.

Mr Sheerazi of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz had drawn the attention of the house towards the about 400-year-old precious heritage from the Mughal era. Demanding a special package for its preservation, he asked the government for steps, if any, to repair and restore its grandeur.

Tracing the history of the mosque, minister Shah said that the mosque was built in 1642 and the first repair and restoration work was carried out during the rule of Emperor Aurangzeb in 1692.

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He said the restoration was carried out for the second time during the rule of Mir Murad Ali Talpur in 1812. However, since independence, the heritage building was not taken care of.

He said in 2008 when the antiquities department was established in Sindh, the Pakistan Peoples Party government had included a Rs67 million scheme in the annual development programme for repair and restoration of the mosque. He said that the work was completed in 2016.

The minister said that after development of power under the 18th Amendment, the mosque was transferred to the local government department under the supervision of the deputy commissioner.

The Sindh government had written to the deputy commissioner to hand over the mosque to the antiquities department so that proper schemes could be worked out for the repair and restoration of the grandeur of the mosque.

New jetties

In response to the calling-attention notice of PML-F’s Nusrat Sahar Abbasi regarding reports of granting tenders to buy new/repaired old jetties to selected companies, Senior Minister Nisar Khuhro said that jetties were not bought but constructed or repaired.

The government had invited tenders to be opened on March 26 to construct new jetties. “So, no question arises to allot them to selected companies,” he added.

Remaining seven calling-attention notices had to be deferred by Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani as the ministers concerned and one of the lawmakers were not present in the house when called to take up the notices.

The speaker regretted over the absence of the ministers to respond to the notices pertaining to health, local government, women development, excise and taxation and livestock departments.

PML-F lawmaker Mehtab Akbar Rashdi, whose notice was about regularisation of the contractual doctors/paramedical staff, said that the absence of ministers had become a routine and if they could not attend the session, it was better to call off the session.

Motion about ‘Rs1.6bn embezzlement’ rejected

The adjournment motion of Khurram Sher Zaman of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf about embezzlement of Rs1.6 billion in purchase of drugs in Sindh was opposed by Mr Khuhro who said that no proof had been attached with the motion.

He said the legislator claimed that he found this corruption in the report of the auditor general, but “why he wants to embarrass the assembly without attaching the report with the motion. It is a big amount and if someone had embezzled the amount, he ought to be brought to book”.

Deputy Speaker Syeda Shehla Raza, who was presiding over the session after Speaker Durrani left, put the motion to the house to get the leave for taking up the motion, but the motion failed to muster support and as such was declared as rejected by the chair.

Mr Khuhro also laid the budget execution report of the second quarter 2017-18, December 31, 2017. The audit report on the accounts of the Sindh government for the audit year 2016-17, which was also laid, was referred to the Public Accounts Committee for consideration.

The assembly was also informed by the chair that the governor had given his assent to the Code of Criminal Procedure (Sindh Amendment) Bill, 2017.

After completion of the agenda, the parliamentary party leader of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, Syed Sardar Ahmad, drew the attention of the house by a point of order towards enhancement of salaries and perks of the speaker, deputy speaker and lawmakers by a bill adopted with consensus in 2017 and also assented to in May by the governor which became law.

He said the law was not so far implemented and demanded payment of dues from May. He said if the government did not like to pay the increased salaries, it should either repeal the law or make some amendments; otherwise pay all dues.

Senior Minister Khuhro said that a letter would be written to the finance department for payment of all dues as the bill was prepared by a select committee after taking into account salaries and perks of all other provincial assemblies.

The lawmakers also expressed condolence on the demise of eminent scholar Muhammad Shah, who authored eight books in Persian, Urdu and Sindh languages.

Offering its heartfelt condolence to the bereaved family through a resolution tabled by Cultural Minister Shah, the house praised him for leaving his assets in the form of agriculture land, livestock and over 400 shops to the poor of area and for the education of deserving children.

The house, which met after a two-day break on Monday at 11.20 am, was prorogued after completion of the business sine die by the orders of the Sindh governor at 1.40pm.

Published in Dawn, March 13th, 2018