After many a repetitive speeches – some actual regurgitations of the original speech by the finance minister – the Sindh Assembly is set to pass the 2012-2013 budget on Monday amid much backslapping and congratulations.
On Saturday, however, Sindh’s MPAs appeared to have ingested some truth serum before they came to the assembly, as complaints and pointed questions rolled off their tongues.
The question hour – including two insightful questions on land allocated to the Defence Housing Authority (DHA) and the Pakistan Rangers – had MPA Syed Sardar Ahmed rising to his feet several times to explain how DHA actually didn’t own the land that they were now selling and making a profit off.
It was Sindh Revenue Minister Jam Mehtab Hussain Dahar, who continued the charge of MPAs finally being open about facts: Dahar confessed that the record he had received of DHA’s land allotment didn’t appear to be quite right and had asked for this to be looked into.
Dahar’s newfound candor didn’t stop at that. In his speech on the budget debate, he said absolutely nothing had been done in the education sector in his area of Ghotki in the past four years. “I have no choice but to say this,” Dahar confessed. “I have asked the education minister and the chief minister several times about the posting of chowkidars,” he said, as he highlighted how gatekeepers were being appointed from other districts in a clear violation of the rules.
“I would not say something like this if I didn’t have proof, and if I am proven wrong, I should not be allowed to speak in the assembly again,” he said. It was a relief to hear a speech without screaming (unlike the ear-splitting MPA Rai Naz Bozdar) or in a strident tone (courtesy MPAs Abdul Haseeb and Rafique Engineer) that was just plain old straightforward.
Senior Sindh Education and Literacy Minister, and the parliamentary leader of the Pakistan Peoples Party in the Sindh Assembly, Pir Mazharul Haq, would have looked shamefaced at Dahar’s conversation, had he been around while his cabinet colleague was speaking.
But mutterings against Haq have emerged in the assembly several times before: from miffed backbencher PPP MPAs to the feisty Pakistan Muslim League-Functional MPA Marvi Rashdi and last week’s tirade by MPA Sardar Ahmed Ali Khan Pitafi.
In the days ahead – and if the coalition does split up prior to the elections – is Haq the right person to lead his often wayward MPAs down to the finish line? If the MPAs continue on this wave of honest criticism, perhaps that question won’t need an answer after all.
Published In The Express Tribune, June 24th, 2012.