The ongoing budget debate in Sindh Assembly was on Wednesday overshadowed by the growing concern of lawmakers over law and order and Pakistan Peoples Party MPAs frustration over the Supreme Court judgment disqualifying Yousuf Raza Gilani a day earlier.
Speaking on the worsening law and order situation in Karachi, the MPAs demanded the government to conduct an operation in all the sensitive areas of the city, cancel the arm licences and ask the people to surrender their weapons. “It seems that every influential man in Sindh has his own private battalion. I will suggest the government to give these people one week’s ultimatum to surrender the weapons before taking action against them,” said Rana Sattar of Pakistan Muslim League-Functional.
He warned that if these actions were not initiated, “no one will be able to control the law and order in Karachi and other districts of the province.”
Sattar said “nothing will come out of the resolutions being adopted in the House against targeted killing or the walkouts being staged against violence. Karachi does not only need an operation, it needs a complete surgery to eliminate the criminal mafias.”
Regarding the budget, Rana Sattar said that 30 to 40 per cent of the budget was being misappropriated by corrupt officials and he stressed the need to have a mechanism to monitor the development budget. “The government should evaluate last four years’ budget in order to know where it has been utilised,” he said. Sattar added that the government claims to have provided government jobs to 70, 000 people, “but how many of them were inducted on merit?”
Referring to two provincial ministers, Shazia Marri and Jam Madad, who belong to Sanghar, Sattar said that “these ministers were not able to construct a 15-kilometre road which was washed away in the flood. You can imagine what is happening with the common men in this province.”
Syed Manzar Iman of Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) said that Orangi Town is one of the biggest slums of Karachi which lacks basic facilities. He said that Qatar Hospital is situated there, but it has no staff. He demanded special package for his area. Regarding the law and order situation, he advised the government to fix the tenure of SHO and other police officials.
Tahir Qureshi of MQM said that budget would not yield any result until and unless law and order situation was brought under control. “Police should be given full authority and resources to maintain the law and order,” he said.
The PPP lawmakers regretted the decision of the Supreme Court, maintaining that “it was an attempt to divert the attention from the Dr Arsalan Iftikhar case.”
PPP MPA Farheen Mughal said that her party respected the Judiciary, “but [the Judiciary] has always given verdicts against PPP leaders and its elected governments.”
Changing a famous couplet of Faiz Ahmed Faiz, she said that it is becoming a tradition where no elected prime minister is allowed to work. But, she said, the PPP workers will neither attack the Supreme Court nor harass its judges and will respect whatever decisions are pronounced.
“It doesn’t matter if Judiciary does not respect us. We will, however, continue to show our reverence for the courts and its judges,” Farheen said.
Information minister Sharjeel Memon said that the PPP had no other option, but to accept the decision of the court in order to avert anarchy. “We could have shown strong reaction throughout the country against the court’s decision, but we avoided it because PPP does not believe in the politics of confrontation,” he said.
Regretting that Supreme Court had disqualified a prime minister who was elected by 180 million people of this country, Sharjeel said that Prime Minster Gilani will always be remembered in golden words for his courage and the role he played in the field of politics.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 21st, 2012.