KARACHI: The protest sit-in organised by provincial lawmakers belonging to the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan outside the Sindh Assembly building against the PPP-led administration for “ignoring” urban areas of Sindh in the budget 2020-21 entered its second day on Friday.

Earlier on Thursday, the MQM-P lawmakers while terming the budget biased towards urban areas of the province boycotted the assembly proceedings and staged a sit-in outside the assembly building.

On Friday, the government tried to pacify the agitating lawmakers and to convince them to end their protest and join the house proceedings.

Govt trying to pacify Muttahida

Talking to the media, senior MQM-P leader and parliamentary party head Kanwar Naveed Jameel said that his party had given concrete proposals to the Sindh government for the development and progress of the urban areas but the provincial government did not incorporate any one of them in the budget.

Pointing towards all the lawmakers participating in the sit-in, he said that all of them believed that the Sindh government was not serious in resolving the problems being faced by their constituents. “Our sit-in will continue and we will spread it further with the passage of time,” he said.

He said that the government had sent a delegation comprising provincial ministers to their sit-in to hold talks. “Provincial ministers Nasir Shah, Saeed Ghani and Imtiaz Sheikh have visited us and we also held discussion with them, but we will only review our decision [to continue the sit-in] after concrete assurances and practical steps,” Mr Jameel said.

“So far, it is our final decision that we will continue our sit-in in protest over the injustices with urban areas of Sindh,” he said, maintaining that door of negotiations with the government was open.

“We are setting up a committee which will keep holding talks with the government,” he said.

Meanwhile, the boycott by MQM lawmakers of the ongoing budget debate in the Sindh Assembly continued as party MPAs symbolically attended the proceedings and then joined the sit-in.

On Wednesday, the MQM-P at a press conference had rejected the provincial budget for financial year 2020-21 and appealed to the federal government, the army chief and the chief justice of Pakistan to play their role in allocation of “reasonable” funds for the development of Karachi.

The party had said that the Sindh government collected Rs16,481 billion from Karachi during the past 12 years and it had spent just around Rs150bn on the development of the metropolis. It believed that these figures were “evidence” that the PPP-led government had deliberately been victimising the people of Karachi and other urban areas for over a decade.

The MQM-P had said that it was the height of “bias” towards Karachi that no new project relating to transport, health or education was given to the port city in the provincial budget 2020-21.

Meanwhile, Leader of the Opposition in the Sindh Assembly Firdous Shamim Naqvi visited the MQM sit-in. He announced his support for the MQM protest and said: “We are standing with the MQM on the issues of Karachi.”

Published in Dawn, June 27th, 2020