Ruckus in PA as PPP, PTI lawmakers almost come to blows

Published April 22, 2021
Sindh Assembly session in progress.  — File photo by PPI
Sindh Assembly session in progress. — File photo by PPI

KARACHI: The Sindh Assembly witnessed yet another stormy session on Wednesday with members of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party and opposition Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf hurling expletives at each other immediately after the house unanimously adopted a set of resolutions to condemn publication of blasphemous sketches in France and asked the federal government to approach the European Union for imposition of a ban on such incidents harming religious harmony throughout the world.

The proceedings took an ugly turn when Opposition Leader Haleem Adil Sheikh was denied the floor by Deputy Speaker Rehana Leghari as he wanted to speak on the speech of Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) lawmaker’s Mufti Mohammad Qasim, who had vehemently condemned the PTI-led federal government for its “brutal” action against “peaceful TLP protesters”.

While the chair constantly reminded Mr Sheikh that she had not allowed him to speak, he during the heated argument with her coldly said that he did not need her permission to speak.

His remarks caused a ruckus in the house as treasury members stood up demanding an apology to the chair from the leader of the opposition, who instead of apologising hurled an extremely unparliamentary word for agitating PPP member Sharjeel Memon.

The PPP member along with his other party members paid the opposition leader in the same coin, declaring that they would not let him speak until he tendered an apology for his highly disrespectful remarks to the chair. However, Sheikh did not apologise, enraging the PPP members.

Members of the ruling and opposition parties hurl expletives at each other

Mr Memon who had visibly lost his cool aggressively moved towards the opposition benches, hurling the same unparliamentary word repeatedly to the leader of the opposition.

Religious Affairs Minister Syed Nasir Hussain Shah tried to calm down the situation, advising the opposition leader to at least take back his remarks, but in vain. The deputy speaker had to adjourn the sitting to Thursday (today) amid chaos.

Joint resolution adopted

Earlier, Nasir Hussain Shah, PTI’s parliamentary party leader Bilal Ghaffar, Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan’s Waseem Qureshi and Nusrat Sehar Abbasi of the Grand Democratic Alliance moved a joint resolution.

The resolution read: “The house condemns the act of France for supporting publication of ... caricatures of our Holy Prophet (PBUH) last year and naming it as freedom of expression. This house resolves and recommends to the Government of Sindh to approach Federal Government regarding approaching European Union for imposition of ban on such acts which harms religious harmony throughout the world.”

Syed Abdul Rasheed of the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal and Mufti Mohammad Qasim Fakhri of TLP also tabled their resolutions against the French government, criticising the federal government for its action on the issue.

Speaking on the resolution, the religious affairs minister said that the issue of blasphemous caricatures was highly important as it made us all emotional and hurt feelings of Muslims across the world. He said that it was part of our faith to lay down our lives for the respect and honour of the Holy Prophet (PBUH).

He said that the entire house was unanimous on a point that no one should be allowed to disrespect the Holy Prophet (PBUH) under the garb of freedom of expression.

The minister also criticised the federal government for ‘mishandling’ the issue and called for taking steps so that such incidents didn’t occur in future.

Speaking on a point of order, TLP’s Fakhri also came down heavily on the federal government for its inaction and said that the government had entered into an agreement with his party in November last year which was yet to be implemented.

He deplored that several people were killed and injured in a “brutal” action of the government against the protesters, who only wanted expulsion of French ambassador from Pakistan.

Minister says 0.2m got vaccine in Sindh

Meanwhile, Health Minister Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho said that 200,000 people had so far been administered Covid-19 vaccination. She said that 500,000 doses were expected to reach Sindh shortly.

However, she conceded that the number of vaccinated people was still very low in the province as many people were reluctant to get the jab.

In reply to a written question, she said that an agreement for outsourcing rural health centres and basic health units of Hyderabad district was signed with non-governmental organisations.

To a verbal query by MQM-P’s Nadeem Siddiqui, Dr Pechuho said that the performance of NGOs was evaluated by an independent third party.

To another question, she said there were eight government dispensaries in Karachi’s district West.

Published in Dawn, April 22nd, 2021

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