KARACHI: Amid opposition members’ strong protest, the Sindh Assembly on Saturday removed the provisions of ‘secret ballot’ and election of ‘any person’ as mayor, deputy mayor, chairman and vice chairman of a council instead of elected members from the Sindh Local Government (Amendment) Bill 2021.
The situation took an ugly turn when Local Government Minister Syed Nasir Hussain Shah moved the motion for reconsideration of the bill and Opposition Leader Haleem Adil Sheikh demanded a discussion on the bill before its reconsideration.
Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani, however, did not allow any opposition member to speak on the bill.
Opposition members belonging to the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan, Grand Democratic Alliance and Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal joined the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s protest and gathered in front of the chair chanting slogans of “Na Manzoor, Na Manzoor” (not acceptable) and tearing up copies of the agenda and throwing them at the chair and leader of the house.
Opposition members stage walkout after protest over controversial law
Some members of the PTI and the PPP aggressively moved towards each other, pushing and hurling harsh words. They, however, were separated by other legislators.
The opposition parties staged a walkout from the house as the speaker allowed Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah to make a statement immediately after the amended bill was passed.
Lambasting the opposition for protesting and staging a walkout against the amended local government law, Mr Shah said that nothing was worse than an illiterate and uneducated opposition. “The bill has been amended as per the governor’s recommendations and it will again be sent to him for his assent,” he told the treasury benches as none of the opposition member was present in the house.
The chief minister said that the bill was passed in urgency as the Election Commission Pakistan had set Nov 30 deadline for the provincial government to provide prerequisites for holding local government elections in the province. “There is still room for further amendments to the bill,” he added.
In an apparent jibe at the MQM-P, Mr Shah said that the opposition party was indulging in linguistic politics. “The one who created linguistic differences is sitting in London. You have disowned him but have not dissociated from his ideology,” he lamented.
“Love Sindh. You are from Sindh,” he continued.
He said that the bill had been presented in the house after all stakeholders were consulted. The chief minister said that the bill was in line with the people’s wishes. “The observations made by the governor have been incorporated in the bill by and large,” he said and added that more amendments could be made to the LG law, if need arose.
The chief minister said that town municipal committees or towns were created on the recommendation of the opposition parties, including the MQM-P and Jamaat Islami.
He also criticised what he called “illiterate and uneducated” federal government and said it had unleashed the tsunami of price hike. “The selected who is sitting at the top should seek pardon from the people of the country and quit,” the chief minister said.
The assembly also passed the Sindh Solid Waste Management Bill, 2021, making mayors of metropolitan and municipal corporations co-chairpersons of the Sindh Solid Waste Management Board along with the LG minister.
The assembly also passed the Sindh Civil Courts (Amendment) Bill, 2021 and the Sindh Factories (Second Amendment) Bill, 2021.
At the outset, Speaker Durrani who was attending the session on production order as he has been arrested by NAB in assets beyond known sources of income case, said he had been subjected to media trial. He said that if the country’s economy would improve by keeping him in prison, he was ready to spend his whole life behind the bars.
Later, the session was prorogued.
Published in Dawn, December 12th, 2021