The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) MPAs might be back in their seats at the Sindh Assembly but their issues with the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) are far from resolved.
On Thursday, the coalition partners disagreed over legislation, the Malir and Lyari Development Authority Revised and Amendment Bill, 2009. The bill was on the agenda but it was deferred because of the MQM’s opposition.
PPP legislators, including law minister Ayaz Soomro, wanted legislation on the issue but MQM parliamentary leader Sardar Ahmed refused, asking the bill to be deferred to the next session.
After the introduction of the Local Government Ordinance, 2001, the Malir and Lyari development authorities were handed over to district governments.
But the ordinance expired on October 28, 2009. Both the authorities do not seem to be working anymore. In order to encourage the housing industry in the province, the government needs to revive the authorities and make the necessary amendments in law.
Billions of rupees have been invested by construction companies and individuals in several housing schemes but because there is dispute of jurisdiction, these projects are in limbo. Talking to The Express Tribune, a senior member of the ruling party said they wanted to pass the bill but the MQM lawmakers resisted. But Sardar Ahmed felt it was not personal. “We need more time to discuss the bill,” he explained.
Chief minister speaks out
Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah said no PPP leaders called for a strike to protest the removal of Deedar Hussain Shah, Chairman of the National Accountability Bureau, whose appointment was declared illegal by the court. “The strike was a spontaneous reaction of people in Sindh and was part of a resolution adopted by the Sindh Assembly against the petition of the opposition leader in National Assembly,” he said.
He said the MPAs had simply spoken out against the words used by Chaudhry Nisar against Sindh’s culture. “He used non-parliamentary language and we have political rights to talk in favour or against someone.”
The session started with Nisar Ahmed Khuhro in chair at around 10:20 am, with only 15 lawmakers present in a house of 168 members. Rules state that a session cannot start till one-fifth of the members are present.
However, annoyed at the perpetual latecomers, the speaker said he would start the session even if there were only two members. So the session started, for a change, on time. Most of the MPAs came after noon, just a little before the session was adjourned.
There were several awkward moments because two ministers, minority affairs and sports, were not there to answer questions. As a result, Sardar Ahmed responded to the questions on behalf of the sports minister and Agha Siraj Durrani answered on behalf of the minorities minister.
Arif Mustafa Jatoi of the National People’s Party said that he had issued 15 reminders to the Minister for Minority Affairs regarding the YMCA ground, which has been encroached on and is being used as a charged parking facility. The minister, however, is not willing to respond.
Meanwhile, MPA Pitanbar Sewani said that more than 10 temples have been encroached upon in Thatta distrant. Durrani assured him that he would talk to the home minister and investigate the matter.
The assembly unanimously passed a bill to set up the Shahdadpur Institute of Medical Science by reconstituting and reorganising the Taulka Hospital Shahadpur to make the hospital more useful.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 18th, 2011.