KARACHI: The provincial budget remained one of the most salient issues discussed on Monday in the Sindh Assemby session, with certain MPAs using the most creative analogies to express their dissent. Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) MPA Nadeem Maqbool said, “The budget seems like a pack of Gold Leaf. But when you open it, all that can be found inside is ‘beeri’.”
Maqbool went on to say that though 20 per cent of the budget had been allocated to education, the quality of instruction at government schools was declining. “In the last 16 years, not a single student enrolled in a government school has been a position-holder. I think it will only be possible to improve the quality of education at these schools if our own children are enrolled in them.”
He continued that though the president had ordered for Rs5 billion to be allocated to the installation of surveillance systems in Karachi, it will not work until the police is given a free hand to control the law-and-order situation.
Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) MPA Humera Alwani also showed alarm at the state of education in the province, where 4.6 million children are not going to school and 70 per cent of the educational institutions for girls were not functional.
Alwani also voiced her concern about the Sindh government’s preparedness for the upcoming monsoon season. Referring to a recent report released by the National Disaster Management Authority, she said. “The infrastructure is not strong enough to withstand another super flood. Heavy rain has been forecast for the first week of July and 16 districts are in danger.” She added that 144 spots along the Indus River were declared to be sensitive, out of which 12 are most vulnerable.
Chettan Mal Arwani, of the Pakistan Muslim League-Likeminded, said that some districts had been neglected in the budget and demanded a strict monitoring and evaluation system to check the use of funds.
“Who will act against the town municipal administrators who spend the monthly budget of around Rs15 to Rs16 million in just one or two days without even beginning development work?” he asked. “Special packages were given to cities which influential people belong to, but the most vulnerable cities like Tharparkar, Thatta and Badin, were neglected.”
Arwani also said that billions of rupees were allocated to law and order, but the kidnapping cases had made the lives of minorities miserable. “They are being kidnapped and women are forced to convert,” he declared. “The Hindus are sons of this soil too. A conspiracy is being hatched to force them to leave Sindh.”
He went on to compare the Zulfikarabad project to Kalabagh Dam and said that the residents of Thatta district should be taken into confidence. “Allotting millions of acres of land has been cancelled to make way for the mega city,” he said. “Every Sindhi will oppose the project till it is shelved.”
He added that new jobs were promised in the budget, but no effort had been made to offer permanent employment to contractual workers.
Another PPP MPA, Ghulam Mohammad Shahliani, said that he was happy with the amount allocated to the health and education. But he demanded an inquiry into the distribution of Watan Cards amongst the flood survivors. “My district, Jacobabad, was most vulnerable, but many of its residents have not yet gotten Watan Cards.”
During the session, rich tributes were paid to PPP leader Fauzia Wahab, who passed away on Sunday. Later, deputy speaker Shahela Raza adjourned the session till Tuesday to mourn Wahab’s death.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 19th, 2012.