Hostile environment: Lawmakers dig up old issues as they bicker during session

War of words erupts between MQM’s Muhammad Hussain and PPP's Shehla Raza

Hafeez Tunio February 03, 2016
War of words erupts between MQM’s Muhammad Hussain and PPP's Shehla Raza. PHOTO: ONLINE

KARACHI: Sindh lawmakers spent Wednesday's session digging up old wounds and playing their favourite blame game.

Tempers flared in the House when members of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) likened the firing at the PIA protest to the May 12 carnage when more than 60 people died as they attempted to join the rally in support of the then Chief Justice of Pakistan Chaudhry Muhammad Iftikhar.

"Yesterday's incident has revived the memories of the tenure of dictator, General (retd) Ziaul Haq, and the May 12 incident when some terrorists had attacked peaceful protesters," said deputy speaker Shehla Raza.

Soon after she finished her speech, speaker Agha Siraj Durrani went on a break and left the session to attend a meeting in his office. Raza chaired the remaining session in which she gave the floor to PPP MPA Sharmila Farooqi to elaborate on the resolution against the PIA protest attack. Farooqi also chose to liken Tuesday's attack to the May 12 carnage.

The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) took offense. They pointed out the Pakka Qila operation in Hyderabad in 1990 allegedly carried out by the PPP government and the 1992 killings of several women and children near Farooq-e-Azam mosque in Karachi.

"Not only May 12 but some other awful incidents are also blots on the face of history," said MQM's Muhammad Hussain. "The Sindh government is expressing its ineptitude over this issue." The police brutally killed innocent women and children in Pakka Qila and the operation was conducted allegedly by the then PPP government, he claimed.

Raza interrupted his speech and told him to speak on the resolution, which was against the PIA protest attack. Hussain continued, however, to criticise treasury members.

"It is very unfortunate that the sitting chief minister and the deputy speaker are posing with a gang war leader in photos," he said, referring to the recently captured gangster, Uzair Baloch. His words caused pandemonium in the House, making Raza give orders to switch off his microphone.

Raza admitted, however, that she has posed with Uzair. "Yes, these are my photos," she said, before adding, "What can you do? Shall I send this picture to you in a frame?" she asked Hussain as opposition members thumped their desks in appreciation.

Raza chose instead to point out the opposition's connections to wanted criminals. "It is good that I have no photos with Ajmal Pahari and Shujaat Hashmi, both terrorists who had threatened to kill me," she said, adding that their attempts to harm her did not succeed. It did not appear as if Hussain was going to back down so PPP's Murad Ali Shah approached the opposition leader, who belongs to the same party as Hussain, to intervene. Later, MQM MPAs asked Hussain to calm down, bringing an end to their war of words.

Resolution: Assembly condemns firing at protesters  

Sindh lawmakers adopted a resolution on Wednesday condemning the firing at the protest rally of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) employees that left two protesters dead and several injured.

Members belonging to the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and opposition members of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Pakistan Muslim League - Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan Muslim League - Functional (PML-F) demanded the government form a judicial commission headed by a serving judge of the Sindh High Court to probe the incident and bring the culprits to justice.

With speaker Agha Siraj Durrani in chair, the session started with senior minister Nisar Ahmed Khuhro speaking in support of PIA’s protesting workers. “We have witnessed a tragic incident yesterday in which workers of the PIA were brutally killed,” he said. The chief minister, who has been termed the ‘captain’ of the Karachi operation, came under fire during the speeches. Most lawmakers criticised him and the police for failing to bring the situation under control.  PML-F’s Mehtab Akbar Rashdi stressed on ensuring any commissioned formed into the incident files its report as soon as possible.

PML-F’s Nusrat Seher Abbasi asked why the government was privatising public schools and hospitals and handing them over to their own people, after claiming it was against privatisation. Winding up the debate, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah said that he had clearly ordered the police and commissioner not to torture the workers. “I only asked them to stop the protesters if they approach VIP1 gate,” he said.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 4th,  2016.


Replying to X

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.

For more information, please see our Comments FAQ

Most Read