Opposition parties in Sindh PA stage walkout against speaker

Updated April 18, 2019

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Opposition stages walkout after Speaker Durrani did not allow a PTI lawmaker to speak on a point of order. — AFP/File
Opposition stages walkout after Speaker Durrani did not allow a PTI lawmaker to speak on a point of order. — AFP/File

KARACHI: Three major opposition parties staged another walkout during the Sindh Assembly’s session on Wednesday as the house passed a resolution unanimously felicitating the people of the province and acknowledging the efforts of the Sindh government in turning Thar into the country’s “hub to supply electricity” required nationally.

The house witnessed skirmishes during the day, but members of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan and the Grand Democratic Alliance walked out of the assembly in the closing stages of the day’s session when Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani did not allow a PTI lawmaker to speak on a point of order when the listed business was yet to be concluded.

Soon after the chair asked GDA’s Arif Jatoi to move his privilege motion regarding holding of a pre-budget discussion, PTI’s Khurram Sher Zaman rose and sought the chair’s permission to speak on a point of order.

Speaker Durrani asked him to wait till the conclusion of the business as per the assembly’s rules. Mr Zaman insisted that he be allowed to speak as the matter he wanted to take up was important in his opinion.

The house acknowledges Benazir Bhutto’s vision for turning Thar Coal project into reality

When the PTI lawmaker refused to sit down, Mr Durrani angrily said: “You cannot dictate me anything, no one can.”

Those sitting in the galleries overheard a reply from the opposition member in the same tone.

“You always do like this,” said the chair to the member. “I will never bow to your dictation.”

Mr Zaman moved and gestured other members of his party to go outside. Leader of the Opposition Firdous Shamim Naqvi was seen speaking with the parliamentary members of the MQM-P and the GDA and soon they left the house.

Members of the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan and the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal stayed in the house.

Before leaving with the rest of the opposition, Mr Jatoi withdrew his privilege motion conceding that the chair had already announced a five-day discussion on the same subject a day earlier.

Mr Durrani referred to the opposition’s walkout as another “sad act” registered by the three large opposition parties. He said he had accommodated the opposition all the time yet he got nothing from them except accusations.

“Yet, I have no grudge against them, I forgive what they have done to abuse me,” he said, adding: “I will say it again that it is the whole house which dictates itself and not a part of it. They cannot run the house at their will. I am not scared of anyone, except Almighty Allah.”

PPP’s Shaheena Sher Ali claimed that a woman PTI lawmaker told her while walking out of the house that the speaker was a “hooligan” [goonda].

Mr Durrani said: “I leave the matter [to] Allah Saeen.”

PPP’s Marui Rashdi withdrew her adjournment motion as Parliamentary Affairs Minister Mukesh Chawla reminded her that the house had already discussed threadbare the issue of teaching Sindhi in private schools and a resolution to that effect had recently been passed.

People of Thar congratulated

PPP’s Arbab Lutfullah moved a resolution in the house, which reads: “This house acknowledges the vision of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto for Thar Coal, which has now been turned into reality by her party led by President Asif Ali Zardari and Chairman PPP, Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari.

“This house congratulates the people of Thar for this unprecedented development which will serve as a game changer not only for Thar but the entire country.”

Besides, the efforts of the Sindh government were also acknowledged in developing the infrastructure in the desert district and uplifting the life of its people.

Mr Lutfullah said the linking of power generating from Thar with the national grid was the greatest example of good governance that denied the “fabricated” accusations of the adversaries who had always made the PPP accountable for “sins it had never committed”.

He said the power being generated in Thar was being used in Faisalabad, which clearly showed that his party always thought of national harmony and strong federation.

“Despite this great gesture, the federal government of the PTI has stopped our lawful share in the revenues and [is] affecting our government’s progressive agenda to develop Sindh,” he said.

PPP’s Heer Soho said the Sindh government had exhausted all possible resources to complete the project.

Hina Dastagir said the Thar project was just the beginning of a great future for Sindh and Pakistan.

Energy Minister Imtiaz Shaikh said Thar coal project was a gift for the entire country from the people of Sindh. He said Ms Bhutto had conceived the project, which her party had ultimately executed successfully despite facing hardships.

He said the project’s Block-II would generate 5,000MW while work would soon start at Block-I for initial 1,350MW.

Minister Shaikh said despite invitation from the Sindh government no one from the federal government came to witness the inaugural ceremony of the power project. “What distressed us is the fact that the prime minister had not flashed a tweet to celebrate the historic event.”

He said the federal government had made a policy not to cooperate with the Sindh government.

Minister concedes lack of sanitation in West district

Earlier, Local Government Minister Saeed Ghani said lifting of garbage by a foreign company had stopped that had caused unhygienic conditions in Karachi’s West district.

Replying to a calling-attention notice by PTI’s Shahnawaz Jadoon, the minister said a Chinese company had been assigned to lift garbage from the district last year.

According to the agreement with that firm, the company should have invested in bringing modern equipment to ensure flawless operation, which it failed to do, he said.

He said a final notice by the Sindh Solid Waste Management Board had been served to the foreign operator, which had also cut the latter’s payments.

The equipment of the District Municipal Corporation West had been handed back to it from the Chinese company, which had started lifting garbage from the district. “The DMC will lift the backlog within two weeks before going for routine lifting of garbage.”

He said the government would go for another international bidding for lifting of garbage in district West.

Mines and Mineral Development Minister Shabbir Bijarani told the house there were reports of presence of gold in Nagarparkar for which required measures would be taken soon to explore the precious metal.

Published in Dawn, April 18th, 2019