KARACHI: As barbs continued to fly in the Sindh Assembly on Friday, a Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) lawmaker in the heat of the moment went on to state that Jahangir Tareen was “rightly disqualified” as whoever was involved in corrupt practices should be punished. However, soon after the session ended, the PTI lawmaker backtracked and apologised for her “harsh” remarks.

While speaking on the budget for the next three quarters of the current fiscal, PTI’s Dr Seema Zia was criticising the provincial government’s performance when someone from the treasury benches took Mr Tareen’s name whose review petition against his disqualification was rejected by the Supreme Court a day earlier.

“Whatever happened to Tareen is very good. Whoever is involved in corrupt practices must be dealt with an iron fist, regardless if it is Jahangir Tareen or someone else,” she said. Dr Zia added that accountability should be across the board and whoever was found involved in corruption should be punished.

Seema Zia explains she meant they respect courts and their decisions — no matter against whom they are

However, it did not take long for the MPA to backtrack on her remarks as within a few minutes, she came outside the assembly hall and spoke to the media to clarify her statement, which must have shocked all — particularly, her party leadership.

“In the heat of moment,” she said, “some words slipped away from me regarding Jahangir Tareen sahib for which I express my regrets.

“I highly respect Tareen and he has done a lot for the party and it is owing to his sacrifices that the PTI is where it is today.”

The MPA clarified: “I only meant to say that we respect courts and their decisions — whether they be against me, our party leadership or anyone else.”

Ms Zia’s statement came a day after the Supreme Court upheld its Dec 15, 2017, decision of disqualifying Mr Tareen for life. The apex court had on Thursday rejected his petition seeking review of its verdict that had disqualified him.

“At a time when it has become a movement to bring back money that has been stashed outside the country, you [Tareen’s counsel] hid the money to buy offshore companies abroad through a device,” the chief justice had regretted during the case hearing.

Earlier, during a fiery speech on the floor of the assembly, the PTI lawmaker spoke at length about various issues pertaining to the health ministry, women and children rights as well as police reforms in Sindh. Referring to the tragic death of 10-year-old Amal Umer in Karachi, Ms Zia said: “Her killing in police crossfire has exposed the Sindh government.

“After ruling the province for 11 years, the Pakistan Peoples Party has only just realised the need for police reforms.”

On Aug 13, Amal Umer, who was travelling with her parents in their car, died after she was hit by a bullet fired by a policeman in the Defence Housing Authority area during an alleged shootout with suspected street criminals.

Published in Dawn, September 29th, 2018

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