Sindh lacks capacity, resources to accommodate more Afghan refugees, Sindh Assembly told

Published September 21, 2021
This 2014 file photo shows the Sindh Assembly. — PPI/File
This 2014 file photo shows the Sindh Assembly. — PPI/File

KARACHI: Energy Minister Imtiaz Ahmed Shaikh informed the Sindh Assembly on Monday that the province did not have any more capacity and resources to accommodate Afghan refugees, who might arrive here in the wake of recent events in Afghanistan.

Responding to a calling-attention notice given by Arif Mustafa Jatoi of the Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA), he said that the province was already flooded with hundreds of thousands of Afghan nationals, demanding that the federal government take effective measures to stop any further influx of refugees in the province.

The GDA lawmaker through his calling-attention notice apprehended that the arrival of Afghan refugees could lead to spread of the coronavirus pandemic as most of them were not vaccinated.

“So far, Pakistan administered the first jab of Covid-19 to 70 million people while in Afghanistan, around 400,000, or only one per cent, got the first dose,” he said, adding that polio was also on the rise in Afghanistan.

Provincial govt is ready to hold LG polls if census issue is settled or ECP wants it, minister tells house

He asked what steps were being taken by the provincial government to look after them and to ensure that they did not get jobs in Sindh or spread polio or coronavirus in the province.

The provincial energy minister, replying on behalf of the chief minister who also held the portfolio of home, said that it would be very difficult to send the Afghan refugees back if they came to cities in the province. “Camps should be established at borders from where the refugees could be sent back to their country. The refugees can be accommodated at camps on humanitarian grounds,” he added.

Mr Shaikh also said that the GDA lawmaker raised the issue on a wrong platform as management of borders was a federal subject. “Nonetheless, we are making sure that there is no burden on Sindh.”

He said that the GDA, being a coalition partner of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf-led federal government, should take up the matter with Islamabad.

‘Sindh govt doesn’t want to devolve powers’

While opposing an adjournment motion of Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal’s Syed Abdul Rasheed, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Mukesh Kumar Chawla said that the local government elections had been delayed in the province due to the ‘controversial’ census 2017.

He said that Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah was the only member who opposed the approval of the census in the meeting of the Council of Common Interests (CCI).

“As far as I know, the local government elections will be held as per the new census. We are ready to conduct the polls, if census issue is settled or the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) wants it,” he added.

The MMA member in his adjournment motion said that the provincial government did not want to devolve powers at the grassroots level, that’s why it was not holding the LG polls.

Referring to the appointment of Barrister Murtaza Wahab as the administrator of the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC), he said that a political figure was appointed to the post.

The MMA lawmaker said that the people were deprived of their local representatives. He said that the civic and municipal problems of people were not being resolved due to the delay in LG elections in all the districts of the province.

However, Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani ruled the adjournment motion out of order.

Resolution on finality of prophethood

The house passed a unanimous resolution moved by Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan’s Mohammad Qasim for implementation of another resolution adopted last year asking the authorities to make it mandatory to write “Khatim-un-Nabiyyeen” (Last Prophet) along with the name of Holy Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH) in official documents, books and wherever the holy name was used.

In the resolution, the lawmakers also demanded that Quranic verses and ahadith regarding the Last Prophet should also be written in the Sindh Assembly and other government offices.

Meanwhile, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Chawla introduced The University of Mirpurkhas Bill, 2021 for establishment of a varsity at Mirpurkhas. The assembly sent the bill to the standing committee concerned for further deliberations.

The Sindh Mines and Minerals Governance Bill, 2021 was also introduced and sent to the standing committee concerned.

Minister Chawla laid before the house two audit reports — one on accounts of Climate Change, Environment and Disaster Management Organisations for Audit Year 2019-20 and another on accounts of Government of Sindh for the Audit Year 2019-20.

1.8m doses of anti-rabies vaccine available

Separately, Health Minister Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho said that there was no shortage of anti-snake venom (ASV) and anti-rabies vaccine (ARV) in the province.

In response to a calling-attention notice of PTI MPA Dr Imran Ali Shah, she said that there were around 1.8 million ARVs and around 22,000 ASV available in different hospitals of the province and they were enough, if needed.

She said that the people often didn’t die due to shortage of vaccines but owing to late arrival at hospitals for which ambulances were being procured.

“In the first phase, 250 ambulances will be procured,” she added.

Published in Dawn, September 21st, 2021

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