KARACHI: The Sindh Assembly on Friday rejected the “targeted victimisation” in the name of “selective and discriminatory accountability” and condemned the arrest of Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani by the National Accountability Bureau a day earlier.
A resolution to this effect was moved by the Pakistan Peoples Party’s Ghanwar Isran and signed by dozens of members of the ruling party in Friday’s sitting, which was called five days before schedule.
However, major opposition parties did not support the resolution which the PPP easily got passed from the house.
It says: “This house categorically rejects targeted victimisation under the guise of accountability; rejects this selective and discriminatory accountability; and vociferously renounces the way and manner of the arrest of Speaker Sindh Assembly Agha Siraj Durrani without any offence being proved against him.”
“And,” it further reads, “[the house] unequivocally condemns the reprehensible manner in which the search of his [Speaker Durrani’s] home was conducted by NAB officials, which went on for hours at a time when only his wife, daughters and daughter-in-law were at home.”
The house asked the government and the Sindh chief minister to approach the federal government to request an inquiry by the NAB chairman into the “reprehensible behaviour” of the NAB officials who raided the speaker’s house.
Durrani says NAB made his family hostage
Before the resolution Mr Durrani, who was brought to the house, made an emotional speech in which he said prison was not new for him, but what happened at his house in his absence was hugely disturbing.
“What they [NAB officials] did to my family, my wife, my daughter, daughter-in-law and children, is extremely disgusting and disturbing. They made them hostage for seven and a half hours. Never this has happened in the tradition of Sindh. Never [did] that happen when I was arrested during the Musharraf regime.”
Speaker Durrani presides over the sitting; house unanimously adopts resolution on Kashmir
He said he had gone to Islamabad to attend a wedding where NAB officials came to his hotel room and asked him to join them without showing arrest warrants.
He said he belonged to the family which had signed the resolution for Pakistan in the Sindh Assembly with their blood. “They confined my family members and abused them. Had I brought my children over here, all of you would have cried by seeing what has happened to them.”
‘You call this Naya Pakistan?’
He said he had filed everything since 1985 with the relevant authorities. He was ready to be arrested, but what happened afterwards was extremely unacceptable and disturbing. “You call this Naya Pakistan? I did not flee anywhere, I did not hide.”
He said he was still the speaker of the assembly as he was just an accused and not a convict.
He asked Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah to conduct an inquiry into the incident at his house and furnish a report before him.
Mr Durrani said he had received messages from various diplomatic missions, which made the matter even graver as the whole world was seeing what happened to the custodian of a provincial assembly and that did not augur well.
PTI, GDA stage walkout amid pandemonium
The opposition wanted to move a resolution on the aggression of Indian troops in India-held Kashmir before the PPP lawmaker’s resolution.
Grand Democratic Alliance’s Hasnain Mirza rose on his seat to move the resolution on Kashmir, but by that time the chair had already allowed PPP’s Isran to table his resolution.
Mr Isran had sought Speaker Durrani’s permission to move the resolution, but the latter said he could not preside over the segment of the sitting as he would be the central point of the discussion in the house.
Deputy Speaker Rehana Laghari had assumed the chair when the opposition benches, particularly those belonging to the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and the GDA, stood on their seats and launched a noisy protest.
They insisted that the resolution about the speaker should have been taken after the one for the people of Kashmir condemning the Indian aggression in the valley.
The chair said Mr Isran was already permitted to table his resolution and assured the opposition to keep calm and the Kashmir resolution would certainly be taken up later in the day.
Referring to the arrest of the speaker and raid on his house as an attack on the assembly itself, Ms Leghari said: “How can we fight for the cause of Kashmir if we lose our house?”
A few angry voices from the PTI were heard accusing the chair of letting down the issue of Kashmir to which the deputy speaker clarified her stance several times during the proceedings.
She said Kashmir was the most important issue for Pakistan, but that cause could be effectively championed if the democratic institutions in the country functioned as it was enshrined in the Constitution.
During the pandemonium, Opposition Leader Firdous Shamim Naqvi led his members closer to the chair and then advised them to march outside. They made a stop before the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan’s seats and their gestures, as seen from the galleries, suggested they wanted the second-largest opposition party in the Sindh Assembly to join them in the walkout. However, the MQM-P decided not to join them.
GDA members had already left the house before the PTI members.
During all those happenings, two members belonging to the treasury benches, Zulfiqar Shah and Sadia Javed, had finished their speeches.
Members belonging to the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal and Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan opted not to join the PTI.
MMA’s Abdul Rasheed supported the resolution and condemned the behaviour of the NAB officials. He said Mr Durrani was speaker of the whole house and condemned those who walked out of the house.
MQM-P’s parliamentary party leader Kunwar Naveed Jameel said the things to which the PPP was protesting against were the same that had been taking place with many MQM-P lawmakers and workers, yet the PPP remained oblivious and tight-lipped.
He said certain MQM lawmakers had been tortured by police in the past with no support coming from the PPP leadership.
MQM-P’s Khwaja Izharul Hassan lamented what happened at the house of Speaker Durrani. He said the resolution “should have referred solely to Agha Siraj” instead of naming NAB, which is a federal institution.
With the debate concluded, the speaker returned and put the resolution before the house, and majority of the members supported it.
PA adopts opposition’s resolution on Kashmir
GDA’s Hasnain Mirza, PTI’s Arsalan Taj and MQM-P’s Mohammad Hussain moved three separate resolutions in which they condemned the Indian authorities for incessant atrocities in India-held Jammu and Kashmir, Indian leadership’s threats to Pakistan after the recent Pulwama incident and resolved that all Pakistanis were united to safeguard the motherland in the wake of any aggression on part of our eastern neighbour.
Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah said former prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was the first leader of Pakistan after Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah who championed the cause of Kashmir and highlighted the issue globally.
He said the incident in Pulwama had given an excuse to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to unjustifiably blame Pakistan for it only to serve his Bharatiya Janata Party’s agenda to get votes in the coming general election.
He called upon the people and leaders of all political parties to get united regardless of their differences, religion and ethnicity to fight for the country.
He said Kashmir had always been a part of Pakistan and would always be a part of Pakistan.
Opposition Leader Naqvi said the country was ready to face any aggression from the eastern borders; however, he added Pakistan was a peaceful country and peace was its first priority.
Minister Shehla Raza, MMA’s Rasheed, MQM-P’s Mangla Sharma and Kunwar Naveed also spoke.
Zardari meets Durrani
Later in the evening, former president and PPPP president Asif Zardari reached the Sindh Assembly and met with Mr Durrani at the speaker’s chamber.
CM Shah was also present in the meeting.
Published in Dawn, February 23rd, 2019