KARACHI: Sindh Assembly Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani on Friday told the house that the conditions in which he had been kept by the National Accountability Bureau were “against human rights”.
He said that this treatment was not new for him as he had endured hardships throughout his decades-long political career.
Speaker Durrani was presiding over the assembly’s session when Pakistan Peoples Party’s Ghulam Qadir Chandio stood on a point of order and requested him to tell the house about his physical condition and health as the party and parliamentarians were concerned after watching a series of reports on electronic media.
“We are all concerned about you; what has been done with you and your family has clearly humiliated democracy,” said Mr Chandio.
Speaker Durrani said his position had made it hard for him to speak at length about the conditions he was going through.
“What can I tell you about the conditions in which I have been put in?” said the chair, “there is no window, in normal conditions light is not allowed to enter”.
MQM-P’s calling-attention notice about misuse of power by an SPSC member rejected
However, he said at night one had to try to sleep with piercing tube-lights that made it hard to get a good night’s rest.
Mr Durrani wondered why the NAB officials had expressed their displeasure in court on Friday that “I have prolonged the [assembly] session for the past three days”.
He explained that given the difficult times the country was passing through, the assembly had been busy in discussion and passing resolutions for appreciating the Pakistani armed forces and condemning Indian aggression.
“In present conditions every member of this assembly and every Pakistani wants to speak for the integrity of the country. We have condemned India for the past three days, which indeed prolonged our sessions.
“Our lengthy sessions for the sake of Pakistan and our armed forces are not acceptable to them [NAB officials]. Just look at their thinking,” said Speaker Durrani.
He said he had many more things to tell the house, but he maintained restraint. “Our leadership has taught us to respect law of the land, which I will do in all circumstances. But they have no feeling whatsoever about the things going on.”
He appealed to those running the electronic media to disseminate information before checking it cautiously. “As far as I am concerned, I am nothing when I know our leader Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto had been confined in a cell. I have faced such captivity in the past, I will face it again.”
He thanked the lawmakers, those belonging to various opposition parties in particular, who came to inquire about his health in his chamber.
Death of five siblings echoes in PA
Earlier, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s parliamentary party leader Haleem Adil Shaikh spoke on a calling-attention notice in which he highlighted the poisonous substance that reportedly killed five children of a family staying in Qasr-i-Naz last week.
He referred to certain media reports that said the five children and their aunt died of inhaling anti-bug spray containing aluminium phosphate, which had been heavily sprayed in the building as insecticide.
He was carrying a bottle filled with the dangerous chemical, which he showed to the chair saying such substances were freely available in markets.
He said a blanket ban had been slapped on such dangerous chemicals elsewhere in the world, yet, they were easily available in Pakistani general and medical stores at the expense of human lives.
The PTI lawmaker asked the government to ban such substances at the earliest and launch an awareness drive to discourage its availability in the black market as well.
Agriculture Minister Ismail Rahu said the samples of the scene, which included the chemical in question, had been sent to three laboratories in Karachi and Lahore and so far the provincial government had not received any report from them. “Until we receive reports from those labs, we do not know about the exact cause of this tragic incident.”
However, he added that the government would certainly take appropriate action once it received reports from the labs.
He said so far the substance in question was being suspected as the samples of food had already been cleared.
He said Qasr-i-Naz was being looked after by the Pakistan Public Works Department and some reports suggested the chemical in question had been sprayed in heavy amount in the building where the ill-fated family was staying.
Minister Rahu, however, said his department had nothing to do with the issue as it just regulated agriculture pesticides. He added that the federal government had the powers to register importers of those insecticides and issue them licences.
He admitted that the dangerous chemicals were easily available in markets and if reports proved that they caused those deaths, the provincial government would request Islamabad to look into its policy vis-à-vis the issue.
Leader of the Opposition Firdous Shamim Naqvi insisted that at least the provincial government could ban sale of those chemicals in Sindh. Upon this the minister said those chemicals had been permitted by the federal authorities.
To another calling-attention notice by PTI’s Khurram Sher Zaman, Local Government Minister Saeed Ghani said so far some 4,000 stray dogs had been vaccinated in various parts of the city and plans were being made to vaccinate more dogs to control their population and rabidity.
Mr Ghani said development of all kinds had been affected because of the federal government’s decision to not release more than Rs100 billion.
Calling-attention notice against SPSC rejected
The calling-attention notice by a Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan lawmaker about alleged misuse of power by a member of the Sindh Public Service Commission (SPSC) for passing his son and two daughters was rejected by ministers Mukesh Chawla and Imtiaz Shaikh.
They said there was no ethnic bias, as claimed by the lawmaker, being adopted at the SPSC.
They said the commission’s chairman was an “honest” person and demanded the chair to expunge certain words spoken by the member against him.
PTI’s Sidra Imran tabled an adjournment motion claiming that the rate of suicides had alarmingly increased in Thar.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Mukesh Chawla opposed it, saying the motion was not specific about a single issue. Speaker Durrani ruled the motion out of order.
The house also passed the Sindh Technical and Vocational Training Authority (Amendment) Bill, 2019 again with certain minor alterations, which the governor had suggested while returning the bill.
The house was also informed about the governor’s assent to three bills — The Code of Civil Procedure (Sindh Amendment) Bill, 2018, The Sindh Local Government (Amendment) Bill, 2019, and The Sindh Local Government (Second Amendment) Bill, 2019.
Published in Dawn, March 2nd, 2019