Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah said on Monday that he has been elected to the post by the provincial legislature and is therefore not answerable to anyone except the Sindh Assembly, not even to the prime minister.
He made these remarks while addressing the inauguration ceremony of the Biopharmaceutical Manufacturing Facility and Dow Institute of Life Sciences at the Ojha campus of Dow University of Health Sciences (DUHS) in Karachi.
"According to the Constitution, I am answerable to the Sindh Provincial Assembly and to no one else, not [even] to the prime minister," said the chief minister, adding that "the Sindh Provincial Assembly elected me and I am answerable to them and I will answer them."
The chief minister was referring to a spat between himself and Federal Minister for Shipping and Maritime Affairs Ali Zaidi in a session of the Karachi Transformation Committee on January 16, details of which were released to the public by Zaidi on Saturday.
The two had a terse exchange during the meeting when CM Shah had allegedly responded to Zaidi's repeated questioning with "I am not answerable to you" thrice. Both of them had penned letters to Prime Minister Imran Khan — seeking his intervention over the exchange — which were subsequently released to the public by Zaidi on Twitter.
The release of CM Shah's confidential letter was criticised by the PPP with Sindh Minister for Education and Labour Saeed Ghani terming it a display of "Zaidi's political immaturity".
During today's ceremony, Shah said that he did not think it appropriate to respond to further questions on the matter because it was a "confidential issue", which was carelessly released to the public. "I cannot be that irresponsible that I talk about a letter which I had written confidentially."
He did respond to further questions of the media over the video of his spat with Zaidi potentially being released, "We will never bring it [to the public], we are a responsible provincial government, we don't do such brash actions [such as releasing] a confidential letter through a tweet."
"I don't want to talk much more on this [issue], there will be a talk with the prime minister on this [issue]," said the chief minister.
Zaidi responded to the comments of the chief minister on Twitter and said they were "ludicrous". "For CM Sindh, the office of the honourable PM [prime minister] has no value. He says he’s not answerable to the PM!"
'Hope to get permission for vaccines soon'
CM Shah also addressed questions about the Sindh government’s preparations for the vaccination rollout in the province. He said he had already written a letter to the prime minister asking for permission to purchase vaccines. The Sindh government has also contacted Sinopharm for their vaccines, according to Shah, but were told that because it was a state-owned firm, "it only deals with the federal government".
Shah said he was therefore hopeful "we will quickly get permission [to purchase vaccines]" after his letter to the premier. He further added that he wanted to be careful in this regard so questions don't arise later, doubting the Sindh government's decision to purchase vaccines.
Addressing the vaccination rollout, he said that districts have been identified and the availability of human personnel for the inoculations has also been ensured. “Now all we need is the vaccine so we can start work."
He added that a plan had been made in conjunction with the federal government about prioritisation for the vaccination campaign and "the first priority would be for health workers".