KARACHI: The Sindh Assembly witnessed a rumpus on Friday when opposition lawmakers, particularly those belonging to the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, created a scene in the house, forcing the speaker to adjourn the sitting till next week.

The hefty agenda of the day largely remained untouched when Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani adjourned the session till Monday soon after Question Hour amid pandemonium.

As the day’s session formally began, Opposition Leader Firdous Shamim Naqvi and PTI’s parliamentary leader Haleem Adil Shaikh rose and demanded that a resolution be moved against a councillor belonging to the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party for allegedly shooting at a PTI MPA from Karachi (PS-109).

Opposition wanted to discuss incident in which PTI MPA was shot at

They said they had drafted a resolution — pertaining to an incident reported late on Thursday night in which MPA Ramzan Ghanchi was shot at during a scuffle over a water-related issue with a union committee’s vice-chairman belonging to the PPP — and they should be allowed to table it.

They demanded that the chair suspend the routine business and allow them to move the resolution.

Speaker Durrani asked the treasury benches to respond and give their input. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Mukesh Chawla said the government was looking into the incident.

He added two out of three persons accused of the “attack” on the PTI member had been arrested.

“A detailed investigation into the incident has been ordered. Our government supports and sympathises with our colleague in the PTI,” he added.

Mr Naqvi termed the incident a “heinous crime” in which a worker of a political party had attacked the worker of another political party.

“This [incident] merits greater attention and the house should move a resolution against it,” said the opposition leader.

The chair said the matter would be given due consideration once findings of the investigation emerged.

The opposition leader insisted that the chair should suspend other business and allow them to table the resolution upon which Speaker Durrani reminded them that there was a procedure to the assembly’s proceedings.

Mr Naqvi was adamant as he said the incident should be condemned before the inquiry report got submitted to the authorities.

His fellow members in the PTI, Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan and Grand Democratic Alliance rose on their seats and said the chair could suspend the business under rules.

They raised their fists and began chanting slogans: “lathi goli ki sarkar nahin chalegi”.

This prompted the treasury benches to rise and confront the opposition’s sloganeering.

Local Government Minister Saeed Ghani criticised the opposition’s attitude, saying they were not setting good parliamentary precedents. He demanded that the opposition shun its protest and help the house run smoothly.

He echoed the chair’s words that no one in the house could dictate the speaker about running the business.

GDA’s Arif Jatoi said the speaker should skip the day’s Question Hour at which Speaker Durrani said: “I don’t take orders or dictation from anybody.”

The opposition members left their seats and congregated in front of the chair. They chanted slogans against the PPP government in Sindh and tore copies of the agenda.

Speaker Durrani kept asking them to maintain order and take their seats. When he saw no one was listening, he adjourned the session for 10 minutes.

When the session resumed, the opposition members refused to change their stance; they kept asking the chair to allow them to move the resolution.

The chair, instead, opted to go by the agenda and began Question Hour.

There were seven questions in total regarding prisons department and all had been asked by the opposition members.

Those who furnished questions said they were ready to withdraw their questions. The speaker said the rules of procedure of the assembly did not allow that.

The speaker read the serial number for every question, but none of the opposition lawmakers read their questions. Interestingly, the treasury members decided to furnish supplementary questions to consume time. Every supplementary question was answered by Prisons Minister Nasir Shah in detail.

The opposition members kept chanting slogans and jeered the minister who was answering the questions. The scene remained unchanged for a while and later many opposition members surrounded Minister Shah, leading the minister’s colleagues to come forward and support him.

In the end, the chair wrapped up the proceedings hurriedly as he called each question with a two-second pause and got the segment completed.

Mr Durrani did not stay further and adjourned the session for next week soon after Question Hour was over.

The opposition members, however, remained in the house for a few minutes more, chanted slogans against Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah and the PPP leadership before vacating the house.

Minister on encroachment

Before the session, LG Minister Ghani spoke to reporters in which he said it was not possible for the provincial government to demolish 500 buildings as ordered by the apex court.

He said the government held the apex court in high esteem, but implementation of its order regarding demolition of residential buildings in the city was not possible.

He said after 10 or 15 years to the commercialisation of a plot under the law of the land, it was not possible to demolish those buildings and render thousands of people homeless and to provide them alternative residence.

“We are not yet able to provide alternative shops to shopkeepers whose shops have been razed during an anti-encroachment drive because of certain legal issues; then how can we provide thousands of houses to thousands of homeless people? Also, the Sindh government has no budget to spend billions [of rupees] on this.”

Asking the court to review its order, the minister said most departments had been handed over to the defunct City District Government Karachi after enforcement of the 2001 LG Ordinance and after approval of a resolution by the City Council in 2003, some 26 roads had been commercialised.

“Then the resolution of the CDGK had been challenged in courts but the courts upheld the resolution,” he said. “I [cannot] support demolishing these buildings and if I need to leave the ministry I shall even do so; but, I will not be involved in making people homeless. We’ll not do anything which could lead to human misery.”

The minister said he admired, appreciated and was thankful to the honourable judges, but “it is not possible” for something earlier permitted legally and now being declared illegal and ordered to be razed.

Published in Dawn, January 26th, 2019

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