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KARACHI: A number of members of the treasury and opposition benches on Thursday spoke at length during the pre-budget discussion in the Sindh Assembly that largely remained peaceful, save a few skirmishes between the two sides, until the last speech by a member on the government’s side when his ‘objectionable’ jargon led the chair to go for another adjournment of the day’s session.

Pakistan Peoples Party’s Imdad Pitafi called a member belonging to the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf a ‘land-grabber’, which shattered the hard-earned peace.

Members from the opposition’s major parties rose in their seats and protested over the language used, calling it “utter disrespect” of parliamentary norms of the house.

Skirmishes between treasury, opposition go on

The opposition members congregated in front of the chair of Speaker Siraj Durrani where they came, again, close to their counterparts sitting just a row away.

As lawmakers exchanged barbs verbally, the speaker kept quiet for a while before he repeatedly asked them to go back to their seats.

The chair had already expunged the objectionable phrase asking the members to maintain decorum of the house and show respect for one another.

The house remained a raucous place with no one interested in listening to the chair, including Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, who was there to scribble notes from the suggestions made by members to prepare his answers during his speech on Friday to wind up the debate.

Earlier, several members spoke, though very few of them confined themselves to the issue at hand.

Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan’s Rana Ansar said instead of cutting ribbons on various occasions, the chief minister should carry out development in the constituencies won by the opposition parties.

She said her constituency was Hyderabad, where development was a foreign word and hygiene was a stranger.

“People in Hyderabad are forced to drink water that is fit only to wash buffalos.”

PTI’s Bilal Ghaffar questioned the Sindh government’s claim of better tax collection, saying such collections in the field of agriculture tax was abysmal where so far no more than 13 per cent tax had been collected.

PPP’s Farhat Seemin said the fact that the PPP secured more votes than in the previous elections in Sindh proved how successfully the ruling party had served the people here.

Grand Democratic Alliance’s Ali Ghulam Nizamani complained that the administration in Sanghar district was not listening to the elected people who wanted development in their constituencies.

He said the medical facilities in the province were poor as well where doctors in healthcare facilities complained that they had no vaccine for rabies.

MQM-P’s Nadeem Siddiqui complained that the Shah Latif Hospital in Hyderabad was in utter mess. It had modern equipment, which was not being used for unknown reasons.

PPP’s Ghazala Sial criticised Prime Minister Imran Khan’s recent statement in Tehran, saying he did not know the gravity of the words he had uttered.

She criticised some opposition members who said Sindh was on a ventilator, adding that Sindh was the province that provided most revenue to the country, thus the country would have been on a ventilator if Sindh had been in such a bad shape.

Revenue Minister Makhdoom Mehboobuz Zaman said the provincial government had achieved most of its targets it had set for the development of Sindh.

PTI’s parliamentary leader Haleem Shaikh said those who were blaming Imran Khan that he had redesigned his cabinet with the help of ex-PPP stalwarts should know that there were many individuals in the PPP’s past federal cabinet who were made and groomed by Gen Ziaul Haq.

He said the PPP had vocally been against Musharraf but “many of members of the PPP’s Sindh government had served in Gen Musharraf’s regime”.

PPP’s Ghulam Qadir Chandio said various schemes had negatively been affected because of stoppage of Sindh’s funds by the Centre.

PTI’s Rabia Nizami said education in Sindh was on the decline despite that the government was allocating increasing funds for the sector. She demanded a mechanism to weigh the efficiency of teachers at government schools.

PPP’s Raja Razzaq said it was Sindh’s right to demand its funds from Islamabad.

GDA’s Arif Jatoi said instead of shouting for the funds held by the Centre, Sindh should join other provinces to happily give that money for a greater defence of the country.

“Everyone sees the enemy was attacking us on our borders; and we [Sindh government] are that selfish that we don’t chip in for our forces who are rendering sacrifices for us.”

Published in Dawn, April 26th, 2019