The Sindh government’s tall claims of development and progress were shattered on Tuesday when a senior member and loyalist of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Sardar Ahmed Ali Khan Pitafi, laid into the government during the budget debate.
“All is not well in Sindh,” Pitafi said. “Can you imagine when we as parliamentarians are suffering at the hands of government, what will be the plight of a common man?”
Pitafi, from Mirpur Mathelo in Ghotki district, made a 30-minute speech in the Sindh Assembly that was marked by resounding approval from several members of the PPP as well as the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and National Peoples Party.
It was a diatribe that few had expected but Pitafi systematically dismissed the government’s many claims. He said he had been silent because of “[Zulfikar Ali] Bhutto sahib and Benazir” but “would not remain quiet anymore.”
Security, development, education and investment came under Pitafi’s radar as he scathingly explained what was going on in his area.
Law and order
Pitafi had a personal point to make. “These people [gesturing towards the front row of government ministers] may have given their sweat to the party. I gave my blood.”
Pitafi’s son was killed during the Musharraf regime. While he said he didn’t expect justice then, he thought his ‘own government’ would help solve the murder. “When even a goat is killed two or three people are arrested. How can I expect good things from my own government which has not arrested those responsible?”
He also made a reference to Chaudhry Aslam, asking why an operation in Karachi had been “handed to a man whose hands are stained with Rasool Bux Brohi’s blood.”
“Whenever I go to my hometown, I see people staging sit-ins and demonstrating against law enforcement agencies. I want to know where the government’s writ is.”
Pitafi questioned why his district – one of the richest in Sindh – was being ignored. According to the MPA, it boasts the Qadirpur and Mari gas fields [one of the major gas reservoirs in Pakistan], the presence of companies like Pak Saudi and Fauji Fertiliser and contributes more than Rs18 billion in taxes every year. “We have vast gas reservoirs in our district, but our villages are still deprived of this facility. Our requests to provide gas in our villages have been turned down by the government.”
To boot, Pitafi said that after he protested, he “only got a one-kilometre road” in his area.
He asked who he should hold responsible for the inequality. “Why are the officials at the planning and development department excluding our development schemes? We request the chief minister (CM) to let us know if nobody is hearing him. We don’t know who is more powerful than the CM.”
Despite being a resource-rich district, Pitafi complained that “they were not able to construct a school building to house around 450 students.” He said he had also asked the prime minister and had been pleading with the CM for four years.
“Enough is enough; should we expose what the reality is? My voters always ask why I cannot resolve their issue, now I want to inform them how our government treats us.”
He criticised the underground gasification projects. “Dr Samar Mubarakmand has been deputed to execute the project in order to generate electricity from Thar coal. But the government will not get ‘Samar’ or ‘Mubarak’ from this project.”
The third-term MPA praised the government for the NFC award and the 18th amendment, and said he was still very much a PPP loyalist, but repeatedly questioned the discriminatory treatment. “It is very unfortunate that our rulers are discriminating and giving priority to some MPAs and ministers over others.”
Published in The Express Tribune, June 20th, 2012.