KARACHI: The Sindh Assembly was on Friday informed that the chief minister had desecration to appoint as many special assistants as he wanted under the provincial laws.

While replying to a call attention notice given by Grand Democratic Alliance’s Arif Mustafa Jatoi, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Mukesh Kumar Chawala said that those appointed as Special Assistants to the Chief Minister (SACM) in the province were ‘people’s representatives’.

He said that Punjab had its own rules and the Sindh government would run the affairs as per its acts. Referring to the appointments in the federal government, Mr Chawla said: “We don’t import special assistants. Punjab may have only four special assistants but it also has 36 ministers.”

The GDA lawmaker said that 18 special assistants of the CM in Sindh were a huge burden on the public exchequer as they were getting Rs5 million per month, while Punjab had only four special assistants and they were getting about Rs1 million.

The house is told the CM can legally appoint as many special assistants as he wants

He said that there were only four special assistants in Punjab for a population of 110 million while Sindh had 18 special assistants with a population of 50 million.

In reply to a call attention notice by Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan’s Muhammad Hussain, Parliamentary Secretary Ghanwer Ali Khan Isran said that without prejudice to the status of the national language, a provincial assembly might by law prescribe measure for the teaching, promotion and use of a provincial language in addition to the national language.

Through his call attention notice, the MQM-P wanted to know what steps had been taken by the provincial government to enforce Urdu as the official language in government departments in the light of a Supreme Court’s judgement.

He referred to Article 251 of the Constitution that said: “The National language of Pakistan is Urdu, and arrangements shall be made for its being used for official and other purposes within fifteen years from the commencing day.”

The parliamentary secretary said that the provincial and federal governments were jointly working to make Urdu as official language in government offices.

He said that the government notifications and other documents were also being translated in to Urdu.

Advisers, SACMs allowed taking MPAs’ questions

The house passed an amendment in the rules for enabling advisers and special assistants for responding queries of lawmakers amid opposition protest.

The opposition members belonging to GDA, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and MQM-P vehemently protested when the parliamentary affairs minister rose to move the amendment in the Rules of Procedure of the Sindh Assembly as they had not been given a copy of it.

In an apparently hastily manner, Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani moved the amendment in the house and asked those who supported it to say ‘Ayes’ and those against it to say ‘Noes’.

When the Speaker announced that the amendment was carried, opposition members once again rose to protest and maintained that they were in majority during the division of the assembly.

Minister Chawla also introduced ‘The Sindh Institute of Advanced Endoscopy and Gastroenterology Bill, 2021’ and ‘The Sindh Telemedicine and Telehealth Bill, 2021’, which were sent to standing committees.

Question Hour

While giving replies to the lawmakers’ verbal and written questions on behalf of the chief minister, the parliamentary secretary for information, science and technology department said that as many as 6,962 people were given computer training in the first phase and 4,200 in the second phase.

He said that the department imparted training to youths of the province to enhance their technical skills. “However, their jobs are not under the purview of the department,” he added.

When asked verbally by GDA’s Jatoi, he said that over 800 provincial government employees of the Sindh Secretariat had been imparted computer training.

To a question asked by MQM-P’s Rana Ansar, the parliamentary secretary said that the IT departed had executed 10 projects during 2017 and 2018 at a cost of Rs110.622 million.

In reply to a verbal question by the MQM-P lawmaker, he said that nine out of 10 projects had been completed.

Replying to a question by Mr Jatoi, he said that no official was posted in any district as the IT department did not have any lower formation/field since its creation.

To another question by PTI’s Sanje Gangwani, the parliamentary secretary said that the work on installation of cameras at temples, churches and other places of worship of minorities would start from next month.

“Cameras will be installed at minorities’ worship places in district Umer Kot in the first phase,” he said, adding that installation of cameras in other districts would start within 60 days.

He said that the Safe City project was also in its final stage as the process of pricing had been completed.

Later, the speaker adjourned the house to Monday.

Published in Dawn, September 25th, 2021

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