For the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leaders who had a chance to enjoy this season’s finest mangoes on Tuesday, the taste must have been bittersweet. Not only Yousaf Raza Gilani was disqualified as prime minister by the Supreme Court in the afternoon, but MPA Sardar Ahmed Ali Khan Pitafi delivered what was perhaps the speech of a lifetime.
Explosive, amazing and embarrassing were some of the words which floated around as Pitafi emerged as the voice of the many, many outspoken and disgruntled MPAs for his spot-on criticism of the lack of governance and initiatives by the Sindh government, including Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah. Later, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and Pakistan Muslim League-Functional parliamentary leaders Syed Sardar Ahmed and Jam Madad Ali lined up to hug Pitafi and shake his hand.
Pitafi railed, ranted and sarcastically highlighted the lack of development; chief minister’s many, many shortcomings and the disparity in how Sindh’s districts are treated. He threw jibes at preferential treatment to multinational companies, the ‘scientist’ Samar Mubarakmand promising “five megawatts of electricity” and the PPP members in the assembly – “They may have given their sweat to the party but I gave my blood” – were part of Pitafi’s emotional diatribe. Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ayaz Soomro’s expression turned from one of bemusement to embarrassment as Pitafi directed his rage at the party and its policies. “People are dying from Karachi to Kammon Shaheed. There isn’t a single day when I don’t go to Mirpur Mathelo and don’t find the street blocked by protestors,” he said. “What kind of justice can this government give? What are we doing about it?”
Pitafi’s speech did what the PPP has tried to do with its coalition partners but has failed for the most part: get them to unanimously agree. The MQM – which has often criticised suggestions of opening up campuses of Karachi-based universities in rural Sindh – thumped their desks in appreciation when Pitafi said that NED University should open a campus in his area because of the high demand for engineering students.
Khuhro’s mango mobile rolls into the assembly
The police officers on VIP duty are surely among the most pitiful among other government employees. They’re either perpetually on the move or forced to spend hours in the heat with little to do.
But on Tuesday, one police van parked at the Sindh Assembly didn’t have the usual lot of surly looking police officers tired of waiting for their ‘sahib’ or ‘begum sahiba’ to exit the assembly so they can trail them back home or to the office.
Instead, the van was crammed with boxes of ‘honey mangoes’ with the proud owner’s name and office phone numbers printed on them: Nisar Ahmed Khuhro, the speaker of the Sindh Assembly and the current acting governor of the province.
Now that Khuhro has used a police van to transport boxes of mangoes, one hopes others follow suit. Can we expect a lawn mobile, full of the latest designer lawn collections so MPAs don’t have to send their staff out to sales? Or a gun mobile, so that no one has to source arms from dealers? The possibilities – like the boxes of mangoes – are endless. This is a ripe opportunity, ready to be plucked by an enterprising entrepreneur – hopefully for a juicy contract.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 20th, 2012.
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