ISLAMABAD: The members of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and the opposition Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) on Tuesday wrangled in the National Assembly over Karachi issues with particular reference to the government’s planned move to take over the administrative affairs of the city by enforcing Article 149 of the Constitution.
The issue came up under discussion out of nowhere on a private member’s day with a heavy 164-point agenda when Minister for Communications Murad Saeed in his usual aggressive style blasted the PPP leadership, including party chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, for their recent harsh statements over the federal government’s proposal to invoke Article 149 and termed them “painful”.
The young minister was then responded to by PPP MNA from Karachi Abdul Qadir Patel, who in his usual subtle speech hit out at both the PTI and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) for what he called conspiring against Sindh by getting Karachi separated from the province.
After the PPP legislator’s response, Speaker Asad Qaiser gave the floor to Minister for Maritime Affairs Ali Zaidi, but the opposition blocked his speech by first staging a walkout and then pointing out lack of quorum, forcing the speaker to adjourn the sitting till Thursday morning.
National Assembly witnesses presentation of 11 bills with all of them referred to standing committees
The debate took place in the NA a day after the Sindh Assembly passed a resolution condemning the federal government’s planned move to invoke Article 149 of the Constitution.
Calling Law Minister Farogh Naseem present-day Sharifuddin Pirzada, a lawyer who was known for facilitating and defending the military regimes, the PPP MNA warned him against making any move to separate Karachi from the rest of Sindh, declaring that the people of the province would not let it happen even at the cost of their lives.
Patel stated that it was MQM’s founder Altaf Hussain who had in the past dreamt about Karachi’s separation from Sindh like Allama Iqbal dreamt of Pakistan. He then asked Prime Minister Imran Khan not to become a “Quaid-i-Azam” to fulfil this dream.
He recalled that Imran Khan during a multi-party conference in London before the 2008 general elections had asked all the parties to stay away from the MQM and did not include it in the government. However, he said former prime minister Benazir Bhutto was of the view that talks could be held with the political and not militant wing of the MQM.
Defending the statements of Mr Bhutto-Zardari and the Sindh chief minister, in which they had warned that any harm to Sindh would be detrimental to the federation, Mr Patel said it was the PPP which had blocked the way of the Sindhi nationalists and rendered sacrifices to save the federation of Pakistan.
The PPP MNA alleged that the law minister, who belonged to the MQM, had given the proposal of invoking Article 149 after the federal government’s failure to topple the Sindh government. He recalled that a federal minister had even visited Sindh in an effort to convert the majority into a minority, but failed to do so.
“Those who previously used to run Karachi through AK-47 [Kalashnikov] are now taking about invoking Article 149,” Mr Patel said while indirectly hitting out at the MQM.
Responding to the allegations regarding the killing of 43 people due to electrocution in Karachi, he alleged that the federal government was responsible for these deaths as the reports had clearly blamed the K-Electric for these tragedies.
Mr Patel also criticised the government’s Kashmir policy, saying that held Kashmir could not be liberated through music concerts.
The PPP MNA said that everyone was celebrating the failure of the Indian space mission to moon, “but what about the failure of the whole plan of the Khalai Makhlooq [aliens] in Pakistan”.
Earlier, hotheaded communications minister from Swat Murad Saeed, while referring to the statements of the PPP chairman and the Sindh chief minister, said the politics of those who had plundered the national exchequer would come to an end, but the federation of Pakistan would stay intact.
The minister, who had been given the floor to respond to the points raised by some of the members with respect to the situation arising out in Ghotki town of Sindh due to rioting by the people over the blasphemy issue, said it was unfortunate that Mr Bhutto-Zardari and Murad Ali Shah had given statements that Sindhu Desh and Pakhtun Desh could be created.
“The statements have hurt the sentiments of all Pakistanis,” he added.
He said Karachi was facing the garbage issue and at least 43 citizens of Karachi died due to rain-related incidents.
It was the responsibility of the PPP as a ruling party in the province to take steps for the removal of garbage from Karachi and to provide clean drinking water and health facilities to the people of Sindh, he said.
He alleged that the money, which should have been spent on resolving the people’s issue, had been deposited in “fake bank accounts”.
Mr Saeed also alleged that 550 children had died in Thar due to lack of health facilities and, according to the data of Benazir Income Support Programme, Sindh was the most poverty-stricken province.
Introduction of bills
Meanwhile, the NA witnessed the presentation of 11 bills and all of them were referred to the relevant standing committees.
At the outset of the sitting, when ruling party MNA Amjid Ali Khan moved a motion to suspend the rules to allow him to table a constitution amendment bill, the opposition members objected to it.
When the speaker allowed the PTI MNA to move the motion, the opposition members walked out of the house.
The speaker had to suspend the proceedings for nearly an hour when he found that the house was not in order due to lack of quorum.
Published in Dawn, September 18th, 2019