ISLAMABAD: MNAs belonging to Sindh on Tuesday expressed reservations over the recently concluded census in the country, alleging serious irregularities in the process which, according to them, would further increase the sense of deprivation among the people living in smaller provinces.
Besides, veteran politician Nawab Yousuf Talpur, a PPP MNA from Umerkot, expressed concern over water shortage in Sindh due to “non-implementation” of the historic 1991 Water Accord.
As Deputy Speaker Zahid Akram Durrani, who presided over the entire private members’ day sitting, referred the water shortage issue to the committee concerned, MNA from Gwadar Aslam Bhootani took the floor and drew attention of the house to a protest held in his constituency over non-inclusion of the locals in the recent appointments made for the newly built airport.
The members from smaller provinces raised these serious issues after getting the opportunity to deliver speeches on points of order after the chair deferred most of the agenda items either due to the absence of the movers or the ministers concerned.
Talpur alleges discrimination in water distribution; Bhootani seeks details of appointments made for Gwadar airport
Taking the floor, MQM-P MNA from Hyderabad Sabir Qaimkhani alleged that irregularities had been committed during the census process not only in Sindh’s urban areas, but also rural areas. He said similar voices were also coming from Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
“We are the people affected by the census,” he said, claiming that many people in Karachi and Hyderabad had not been counted in the exercise on which the government spent Rs35 billion.
He claimed that many houses in his own constituencies had been left unmarked. He said when the authorities closed the census process as per schedule, Karachi’s population was shown as only 14.5 million. However, he said, when they drew the attention of the authorities that at least 36,000 buildings had not been counted, the process was re-started and the population jumped by six million.
He was surprised over the “data” which showed that the population of Karachi and Hyderabad had been increasing with a rate of 2.5 per cent per year whereas in some other cities, there had been 10-15pc increase in the population, adding that “perhaps births have stopped taking place in Sindh”.
Mr Qaimkhani said Nadra data showed that more than 20.5m people possessed national identity cards. Similarly, he said, the voters list of the Election Commission of Pakistan could be examined to find out the adult population.
Similarly, Shahida Rehmani of the PPP said the Sindh government had already expressed “reservations” over the census process. She said Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah and his whole cabinet were raising voice over the faulty census on the basis of which the provinces got share in the National Finance Commission (NFC) Award.
She suggested that the help of lady health workers should have been sought for the process. She said even a district health officer could easily provide the population data.
Drawing the attention of the house to the water shortage, Mr Talpur said the “excesses” being committed with Sindh should end.
The ailing Talpur, who was allowed to speak while sitting on a wheelchair, claimed that Sindh was facing 51pc shortage in its share whereas Punjab was facing 36pc shortage. He asked Punjab to act like an elder brother, adding: “This discrimination should end.”
Independent MNA Aslam Bhootani said he was told that recently 35 people had been appointed on various posts from deputy director level to sweepers for the newly built Gwadar airport. But only three of them were locals and were appointed in the lower ranks, he said.
The locals had protested in Gwadar earlier in the day over this “discriminatory act”, he said and asked the deputy speaker to direct the aviation minister to brief the house on the matter.
Earlier, the National Assembly passed two private member’s bills and referred one bill to the standing committee concerned.
The bills passed were the Pakistan General Cosmetics Bill 2023 and the Export Processing Zones Authority (Amendment) Bill 2019.
The house also approved an amendment to the assembly rules moved by Salahuddin Ayubi of the JUI-F according to which the National Assembly’s sitting would automatically be adjourned for 20 minutes after every prayer’s call.
The National Assembly will meet again on Wednesday (today) at 1pm.
Published in Dawn, May 31st, 2023