The rumour mill in Karachi keeps churning, and its latest grist is the question over who will be the next home minister. Bumbling Manzoor Wassan of the political dreams fame has faded into the woodwork and Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah doesn’t appear to have much of a handle on law and order.
The MPAs have grown restless of waiting for Shah to appear in the assembly so they can continue a debate on the state of law and order and Lyari has become synonymous with Swat thanks to none other than the verbose, headline-grabbing interior minister, Rehman Malik.
The names currently doing the rounds are Nadir Magsi – the food minister who recently stepped in to solve the crisis in Lyari – and Local Government Minister Agha Siraj Durrani. While Magsi hasn’t really been a prominent figure as far as Karachi’s politics or security situation is concerned, Durrani has been a key interlocutor with all political parties in the city. The two are also on good terms with the press corps and have yet to pull off a Zulfiqar Mirza-esque stunt.
Speaking of stunts and faux pas, the attempt by Sindh Senior Education and Literacy Minister Pir Mazharul Haq to rush through a piece of legislation to create a Sindh Teachers Education Development Authority was defeated when the Muttahida Qaumi Movement legislator and adviser to the chief minister, Khwaja Izharul Hasan, highlighted how the technical education authority that had been created was a virtual disaster and seats earmarked for studies in telecommunication had been wasted since few people had applied.
That didn’t derail the process though. A spirited two hours of speeches and proposals for amendments followed. However, an indication of the state of education in Pakistan was made evident in the proposed legislation, which seeks to train teachers but had a number of spelling mistakes. “Its panel, not penal,” pointed out one MPA, and another wondered if the right word in a sentence was ‘teaches’ or ‘teachers’.
Haq, rather embarrassed that legislators had picked up so many issues as a number of educationists looked on from the visitors’ gallery, asked the MPAs “not to make jokes”. Perhaps there is a reason why so many members questioned the legislation. Training teachers is essential – and the number 19,000 was thrown around, which is a good start. But whether the training will actually be conducted is a question for another day. On Tuesday, the MPAs will attempt again to restart their discussion on law and order, but Sindh Information Minister Shazia Marri told the assembly that the chief minister may come by to present a report on the government’s performance in the last four years and make a speech. Cue the self-congratulatory paeans!
Published in The Express Tribune, May 8th, 2012.
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