Govt, opposition agree to form privilege committee against Irsa chief’s remarks

Updated November 19, 2019

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The Sindh Assembly on Monday formed a seven-member special committee to deliberate upon an adjournment motion which expressed serious discontent over a statement of the chairman of the Indus River System Authority through which he refused to give importance to a resolution demanding just distribution of water among the provinces. — APP/File
The Sindh Assembly on Monday formed a seven-member special committee to deliberate upon an adjournment motion which expressed serious discontent over a statement of the chairman of the Indus River System Authority through which he refused to give importance to a resolution demanding just distribution of water among the provinces. — APP/File

KARACHI: The Sindh Assembly on Monday formed a seven-member special committee to deliberate upon an adjournment motion which expressed serious discontent over a statement of the chairman of the Indus River System Authority through which he refused to give importance to a resolution demanding just distribution of water among the provinces.

The motion was moved by Pakistan Peoples Party lawmaker Ghulam Qadir Chandio, who is also the chairman of the Sindh Public Accounts Committee, and his fellow lawmaker Noor Ahmed Bhurgari.

The movers referred to a report published in a section of media that said Irsa Chairman Raqeeb Khan remarked during an in-camera meeting of the members of the authority that Irsa “is not subjected to any assembly or institution and the [Sindh Assembly’s] resolution carries no weight as it is unnecessary and constitutes meddling into the affairs of Irsa”.

Mr Chandio expressed his disappointment over the reports and said it was tantamount to humiliating the elected forums like the Sindh Assembly.

Asking for summoning the Irsa chief before a privilege committee of the house, Mr Chandio requested the chair to launch a debate in the provincial legislature over the issue with the objective to devise a consensus decision on it.

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Parliamentary Affairs Minister Mukesh Kumar Chawla said a special committee comprising lawmakers from the treasury and opposition benches would be formed to debate the matter.

Opposition Leader Firdous Shamim Naqvi did not object to the matter as he said the house should ensure that the response from the Irsa chairman should be in writing. “The written response will be a document that we could present wherever needed.”

He said the opposition was in agreement with the treasury benches in establishing a privilege committee.

Deputy Speaker Rehana Leghari asked the opposition and treasury sides to submit their nominations for the committee.

Four members of the committee are from the ruling PPP and three members from the opposition.

Sharjeel Memon, Aziz Junejo, Qasim Soomro and Imdad Pitafi will represent the treasury benches, while Aslam Abro, Mohammad Hussain and Shaharyar Maher would be from the opposition.

Ms Leghari spelt out brief terms of reference for the committee, which required summoning the Irsa chairman and asking him to explain his remarks.

The committee has been given two weeks to submit its report before the house.

Domestic violence

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s Adeeba Hasan asked the home department as to what steps it had taken to publish the report of the domestic violence cases in the province.

The home portfolio is with the chief minister and in his absence Minister Chawla responded to the question.

He said the government had begun working on establishing district committees to handle the alarming incidence of domestic violence.

“These committees will soon be established in every district,” he said.

He said that the government was sincerely taking measures to stop such incidents of violence from occurring.

Role of food dept questioned

PTI’s Ali Khurshidi said juices made of hazardous chemicals and carrying dangerous ingredients were commonly being sold in various parts of Karachi.

He demanded an explanation from the food department.

He said people in Sindh were already in danger of various viral and infectious diseases like dengue, rabies and hepatitis etc. And the sale of such substances in the name of juices and foods had put their lives in even greater peril.

He said such drinks were commonly available in thickly-populated impoverished neighbourhoods and it left a question mark on the performance of the provincial food authority. “People are dying because of the use of such edible items, which by any standards are not edible.”

Food Minister Hari Ram Kishori Lal said his ministry was aware of such issues and had already taken certain measures to curb such activities and arrest those involved in manufacturing those juices and foods. “We are taking action against all those involved in these crimes and a number of persons involved in manufacturing of these items have been arrested already.”

He appealed to the house and the public at large to inform the food department if they found any such items in their surroundings.

Minister concedes unemployment on the rise

Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan’s Rabia Khatoon in her calling-attention notice pointed out about growing unemployment in Sindh, particularly in Karachi and Hyderabad.

Industries and Commerce Minister Jam Ikram Dharejo said there were two sources of generating employment — public and private sectors.

He said the provincial government had recruited people through Public Service Commission, but the private sector was not healthy enough to offer good number of jobs because of issues created by “non-cooperation” of the federal government.

He said various economic zones could not be developed because of Islamabad’s non-cooperation. “Because of the flawed economic policies of the federal government, unemployment is in on the rise and people are hugely distressed.”

He said the provincial government’s “sincere” efforts to offer jobs to most unemployed youth could not succeed because of lack of support of Islamabad.

MQM-P’s parliamentary party leader Kanwar Naveed Jameel spoke about media reports that dozens of children at a private school in Korangi allegedly fell sick after they were administered an anti-typhoid vaccine.

Minister Chawla said the provincial health minister was visiting abroad, but the issue was being handled on a priority basis.

PTI’s Rabia Nizami said parents’ permissions should be necessary before vaccinating children.

Larkana dog-bite victim

Opposition Leader Naqvi claimed on a point of order that more than 186,500 people were bitten by dogs across Sindh during the last one year.

Referring to a six-year-old boy of Larkana, who was bitten by six dogs and is currently under treatment at the National Institute of Child Health, he questioned the government’s tall claims regarding bringing improvement in the healthcare system.

“That unfortunate child neither got a good hospital nor an ambulance to reach Karachi,” he said.

During his speech, murmurs were generated by the treasury benches at which a number of PTI lawmakers rose to defend their leader, but virtually ended up increasing the pandemonium that led the chair to adjourn the session for the day.

Published in Dawn, November 19th, 2019