Fawwara Chowk wears a deserted look during the Sindh Assembly’s maiden session on Saturday.—Fahim Siddiqi / White Star
Fawwara Chowk wears a deserted look during the Sindh Assembly’s maiden session on Saturday.—Fahim Siddiqi / White Star

KARACHI: If you didn’t know the extent of the Red Zone wherein the Sindh Assembly building is located, Saturday was the time to find out as gray, blue and maroon containers outlined the sensitive area. Those who came inside could not go out easily and those outside were blocked out to forever (well for five years at least) hold their peace as the MPAs-elect took their oaths.

It is not easy to block the will of the people. Every New Year’s eve, more containers than what were found in the Red Zone on Saturday are placed around Seaview along with the enforcement of Section 144 to stop people from celebrating. Still, they somehow reach by midnight to celebrate to their heart’s content. Was there not that much will this time to make a way?

As trouble from the unhappy parties — the Grand Democratic Alliance, Jamaat-i-Islami, Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and MQM-Haqiqi — was expected, everyone was already informed to arrive early to the assembly, by three hours at least. The MPAs-elect knew this, the media knew this.

The excited new faces, the fresh, first-time MPAs, belonging mostly to the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) arrived early as expected.

Sikandar Khatoon of the MQM-P was first. When the lady, who happens to be a lawyer, was asked why advocates love the colour black so much that when not wearing the black coat she donned a black suit, she smiled and pulled up her sleeves to reveal her green and white bangles. “Only green and white? No orange?” Someone asked and she reminded that she was wearing bangles the colour of the Pakistan flag, and not of the MQM-P banner.

Former MQM-P legislator Rabia Khatoon had come with her daughter Qurratulain Khan, another first-time MPA, adorning a light green suit. When someone asked Rabia that mothers usually taught their daughters how to cook or sew, and look at what she had done, she laughed and said that she had carried out that duty as well. “She is also an excellent cook, mind you. But I guess watching me working for the betterment of people, especially women, all my life she also chose a similar path for herself. I, too, have passed the torch to her,” the mother, who was not a part of the 16th Provincial Assembly, said.

Advocate Sofia Shah, in a dark green khaddarsuit with a matching dark green bag, also happens to be the MQM’s candidate for speaker.

More MQM-P legislators arrived. Iftikhar Alam, Kiran Masood, Shaukat Ali, Farhan Ansari, Mohamma Daniyal, Shariq Jamal, Nasir Hasan Qureshi, Taha Ahmed Khan ... the 28 elected MPAs of whom 22 are new.

The MQM-P legislators were all going in from the old building gate after arriving in their small cars.

Members of the majority party, the PPP, were going straight to the new building side in their big SUVs with dark, tinted windows and green number plates in most cases. On Saturday, they were sought by the media chasing after each one of them with a pen and notebook or microphone. There also come times when these politicians look for the media. But today was not that day.

Arif Mahar, another fresh face, told the media about wanting to see an end to the lawlessness, the thefts and snatching.

Another legislator, Dr Sajida Leghari from Dadu, starting her fourth stint was talking about her priority of rebuilding the infrastructure ruined during the floods and to look into the issues of proper water supply to the people.

Meanwhile, as the assembly proceedings were taking place as per schedule, there were reports coming in about bad traffic due to roadblocks at various places in the city.

Published in Dawn, February 25th, 2024

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