The ambitious Zulfikarabad City project is turning into another contentious issue causing a division in the rank and file of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party in Sindh.
Sindh Culture Minister Sassui Palijo on Saturday walked out of cabinet meeting as she was not allowed to speak about the concerns and reservations of the people who are likely to suffer on account of this project.
Though the meeting, which was chaired by Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah, approved a proposal to ink an agreement with a Chinese company for the development of the project, Sassui Palijo argued that thousands of acres of land earlier allotted to the local people have been cancelled in the name of development.
Sources privy to the meeting told The Express Tribune that as the chief minister briefed the cabinet about President Zardari’s directives to approve the development plan of the proposed city, Palijo stood up and said that the local people have reservations on the project.
As the CM continued with his briefing, Sassui Palijo interrupted asking the cabinet members to listen to her viewpoint. She said “there has been criticism on Mohabbat-e-Sindh rally. The government says had the Awami Tehreek taken a permission to organize the event, the administration would have averted the attack on it. I want to know whether our government has got the consent of the local people who are being displaced and their land allotments have been cancelled.”
The tirade of Palijo irked ministers belonging to the Muttahida Qaumi Movement. Raza Haroon drew the attention of the chief minister and said: “We are discussing the development of Zulfikarabad, why the culture minister is linking this to the attack on the Awami Tehreek rally and Mohajir province. This is not on the agenda. ”
As Qaim Ali Shah did not lend his ears to her pleadings, Palijo walked out of the cabinet meeting in protest. Later talking to The Express Tribune, Palijo said: “I am an elected representative of the area. During the meeting, I tried to convey the grievances of local people to the CM and other cabinet members, but the CM did not give me the permission to speak on the issue. I have therefore boycotted the meeting.”
However, provincial Information Minister Shazia Atta Marri at her briefing refuted the claim of Palijo. She said that Sassui Palijo was constantly interrupting the chief minister while he was briefing the meeting. “Palijo was given full time and she expressed her reservations as well. But interrupting the chief minister during his speech is against ethics,” she added.
Job quota for women
Shazia Marri in her briefing said that the cabinet meeting also decided to allot 25 per cent quota bfor women in government jobs. She clarified that jobs in all government departments will be given outside merit quota. “The decision has been taken on the directives of President Zardari,” she said.
The information minister said that earlier five per cent quota was allocated for women. Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah has said that Sassui Palijo’s portfolio will be taken away from her as disciplinary action for walking out of the Sindh Cabinet meeting. He was talking to reporters at the house of Senator Mian Raza Rabbani for condolence on the death of his father on Saturday. “Sassui has violated rules at cabinet meeting,” he said. “We will take action against her by taking back her portfolio for a while. We will call her to explain her behaviour at another meeting.” The government issued a notification withdrawing the culture ministry from Palijo on Saturday night.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 3rd, 2012.
Clarification: The MQM has denied that one its ministers made any comments on this issue to the chief minister. Raza Haroon was not in the room when this discussion took place as he had stepped out for consultations with his senior minister therefore his being quoted as making comments to the chief minister on the issue is out of the question. The error is regretted. – Editor
More in SindhGunned down: Two men shot dead, two bodies found