KARACHI: The Sindh Assembly on Wednesday passed a resolution with a majority vote condemning the “intentions on the part of the federal government for altering the limits of the province of Sindh”.
The resolution, which was moved by more than 30 members belonging to the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party, was referring to a recent bill tabled in the National Assembly by a Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan lawmaker for creation of more provinces in the country.
Lawmakers belonging to the opposition MQM-P and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf — both coalition partners at the centre — opposed the resolution.
The opposition GDA & MMA supported the PPP resolution that was passed with a majority vote
Another partner of the PTI-led federal government, the Grand Democratic Alliance, sided with the treasury benches and supported the PPP resolution.
Opposition’s protest on suspension of day’s agenda
Bizarre scenes, however, were witnessed at the outset when the resolution was first moved by PPP’s Ghulam Qadir Chandio.
When Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani permitted Mr Chandio to move the resolution by suspending the day’s business after Question Hour, the lawmakers belonging to all the three major opposition parties rose in tandem and began opposing it.
They moved in front of the speaker’s seat and shouted slogans.
Speaker Durrani said: “You are against Sindh. If you are against Sindh then keep making noise, but we all will never tolerate any move aimed at dividing Sindh. We’ll sacrifice our lives but will never allow anyone to divide Sindh.”
The opposition parties opted to stay in the house until the resolution was passed. Later, MQM-P members were the first to stage a walkout followed by their PTI colleagues.
The resolution reads: “This house vehemently condemns the intentions on the part of the federal government for altering the limits of the province of Sindh.
“This step will indeed be tantamount to betraying the purpose of federalism and against the wishes of the people of Sindh.
“Further, Article 239(4) requires that the same bill shall be passed by the respective provincial assembly with two-thirds majority for any such change [in the limit of an existing province]. Hence, this move is rejected by the people of Sindh.
“The public-representative house recommends the Government of Sindh to approach the federal government [asking them] to avoid any such move, which may be detrimental to the very spirit of federalism.”
It went on: “This house further recommends that the federal government, instead of playing divisive politics, should extend all possible cooperation to the Government of Sindh for the welfare of the people of Sindh in the light of historic 18th Constitutional Amendment.”
GDA, MMA support PPP resolution
GDA’s Nusrat Sehar Abbasi read out the resolution again making her party as a mover of the resolution.
She said her party unknowingly protested against the resolution when it was being presented as they did not know about its contents in advance. “Had we known about the nature of the resolution we would have not been part of that protest.”
She blamed the PPP for trying to divide Sindh in 2012 when it had passed a controversial local government bill, which “effectively divided Sindh”.
Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal’s Abdul Rasheed supported the resolution, saying such amendment bill in the National Assembly was part of the plot to create chaos in the country and get people’s attention diverted from the real issues.
Leader of the Opposition Firdous Shamim Naqvi said the PTI believed in the unity of Sindh and referring a bill to a committee did not show that the federal government had any intentions to divide Sindh.
Information Minister Saeed Ghani said the federal inter-provincial coordination ministry had sent a letter to the Sindh government discussing the amendment as moved by the MQM-P in the National Assembly.
“The Sindh cabinet had vehemently rejected the contents in the letter. Such an amendment [if passed by parliament] would extremely harm Sindh, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa,” he said.
He said Article 239(4) had given the authority of altering boundaries of a province to the same province. Besides, without recommendation of a provincial assembly’s two-thirds of total strength, the president could not give assent to such an amendment.
‘Plot against Sindh’
He said a plot was being hatched to divide Sindh by suspending clause-4 of Article 239, adding that the parliamentary affairs minister of the PTI had supported the controversial amendment bill and instead of throwing it in the dustbin sent it to a standing committee for consideration.
He said the 18th Amendment had helped end decades-long bitterness among the provinces. “The PTI is being used in the hands of the MQM or it is playing with the federation by design.”
He warned: “We can go to the lengths beyond anyone’s imagination if such a decision is approved by the National Assembly and Senate. They know nothing how far we can go.”
He asked the MQM-P lawmakers to play their part to forge harmony in Sindh. “By rejecting Altaf as your leader is not enough, what is more important is to reject the policies of Altaf Hussain,” he said.
Responding to a question asked by GDA’s Abbasi, Minister for Livestock and Fisheries Abdul Bari Pitafi informed the house that a project titled Provision of Model Veterinary Centres in Arid Zones of Sindh at Tharparkar, Khairpur, Jamshoro, Dadu, Ghotki, Hyderabad, Umerkot and Tando Allahyar was approved in May 2015 for three years “but due to less releases of funds it could not complete in time and extended for another year”.
To a question asked by GDA’s Arif Jatoi, the minister said no survey of fish had been carried out in Sindh’s Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) since all activities in EEZs fell under the domain of the federal government and was undertaken by federal marine fisheries department. The same survey was carried out by the marine fisheries department between 2008 and 2012.
Published in Dawn, October 3rd, 2019