KARACHI: Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah has said that National Accountability Bureau officials not only arrested Sindh Assembly Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani illegally, but they transgressed the sanctity of ‘chador and chardiwari’ by intruding into his home and misbehaving with the women and making them “hostage” for over seven hours.
“This is unprecedented and uncalled for in a civilised society,” he said and demanded that the NAB chairman take action against the officials involved.
The chief minister, who was flanked by Sindh PPP president Nisar Khuhro and his Adviser on Information Murtaza Wahab, made this demand while speaking at a press conference in the old Sindh Assembly Building on Thursday.
He said if NAB had so much evidence and documentary proof that it decided to arrest the person holding a constitutional office in the Sindh Assembly, then why his house was raided to search for evidence.
PA session summoned today, production orders for Durrani, others issued
He said: “Agha Siraj Durrani is one of the most respected senior parliamentarians whose father, Agha Sadaruddin, and (an) uncle had also been speakers of the Sindh Assembly. The way he was arrested from a hotel in Islamabad was disgraceful and unconstitutional,” he said.
The chief minister expressed his displeasure over the raid conducted by the NAB authorities at the home of Mr Durrani by “breaking the gates and climbing the walls” where his wife, three daughters and a maid were present. He said he spoke to the wife of Siraj Durrani and she told him that the raiding party, which included two women, forced them to stand on the lawn of the house.
He said Mr Durrani’s daughter tried to stop a NAB official when he started smoking a cigarette. In reaction, the NAB official exhaled the cigarette smoke into her face. Mr Shah said that he and his assembly members believed that anti-corruption was a provincial subject, but the courts did not accept their view. “This was why we had withdrawn the draft accountability bill from the assembly,” he added.
Quoting Mrs Durrani, the chief minister further said that one of the women accompanying the NAB team experienced a drop in blood pressure and collapsed on a sofa. “The wife of Agha Siraj Durrani gave her juice to stabilise her condition,” he said. “This is the grace and humanity the Agha’s family demonstrated against those who raided their house and made them hostage,” he added.
Before leaving the house the NAB officials asked the family members to sign the papers otherwise they would not leave the premises. “We are unaware of the items they had taken away with them from the house.”
Referring to the murder case of Irshad Ranjhani, Mr Shah said that he had taken strict action against policemen who had treated him inhumanly and took him to the police station instead of shifting him to hospital.
The chief minister said that the deputy speaker had summoned a Sindh Assembly session on Friday at 2pm for which she had issued production orders of the speaker. “I am sure the NAB authorities will produce him for the session.”
In reply to a question, Mr Shah said that the registration of an FIR against the NAB officials for raiding their home was a prerogative of Agha’s family. “If they want to register a case, we will support them,” he added.
Answering another question, the chief minister said that there was no need for resignation of the speaker. “Even if he resigns, he will remain an assembly member,” he said and added that in 2016 when Agha Siraj Durrani had contested election of the speaker his opponent MPA was in jail custody but had not raised any objection to it. However, he said that it would be Agha Siraj Durrani’s personal decision whether to continue as speaker.
He said that after the incident, members of the provincial cabinet and senior PPP leadership rushed to the spot and tried to meet the family members, but they were denied access to them. He also tried to get in touch with the NAB chairman, but could not succeed. Later on he contacted someone who assured him that within five minutes the NAB team would leave, but still it took one and half hours to the team to vacate the residence.
In reply to yet another question, the chief minister said that the arrest of the speaker had affected the sanctity of the assembly because he was the custodian of the house. “We would try to seek the support of the opposition for raising voice against the arrest of the speaker,” he said.
Mr Shah said that he had the powers to transfer the additional inspector general of Karachi police, but as he was doing good work, there was no need to take such a decision. He added that there was a minor procedure for transferring the IGP, but he would take such a decision when needed.
Murad Ali Shah regretted that being the chief executive of the province he could not save the house of Agha Siraj Durrani from being “transgressed” by the NAB officials. He urged the Senate and National Assembly to review the NAB law and remove all the “draconian” clauses from it.
PA session today
Deputy Speaker Rehana Laghari, who has assumed the charge of acting speaker of the Sindh Assembly, on Thursday called a sitting of the provincial legislature on Friday (today) at 2pm, an official notification issued by the Sindh Assembly’s secretariat said.
The acting speaker also issued production orders for Agha Siraj Durrani, the speaker of the PA, to the National Accountability Bureau to ensure his attendance in the session.
The provincial assembly was already in session, which had been deferred till Feb 27 by Speaker Durrani.
The Sindh Assembly’s secretariat, on behalf of the acting speaker, has sent the production orders to the director general of NAB, Karachi, saying a sitting of the provincial assembly had been called of which Mr Durrani was the speaker and a member.
Officials said production orders for Pakistan Peoples Party’s Sharjeel Inam Memon and Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan’s Jawed Hanif were also issued to the home department.
Senator Raza Rabbani, who is former chairman of the Senate, has said that NAB has no justification to arrest the speaker, and termed it a predetermined political agenda as the federal parliamentary system is, step by step, being dismantled, brought in ridicule and being made redundant.
“Any attempt to bring disrepute, scandalise or incapacitate a speaker of a provincial assembly in terms of Article 7 of the Constitution, 1973, is an attempt to incapacitate the State,” he said.
Published in Dawn, February 22nd, 2019