KARACHI: The Sindh Assembly witnessed uproar on Friday as lawmakers from the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) engaged in a verbal duel that stemmed from a debate on drinking water shortage in Sukkur.
Soon after the session started, with speaker Agha Siraj Durrani in chair, MQM MPA from Sukkur, Dewan Chand Chawla, drew the attention of the local government (LG) minister towards the water crisis in the city. “The North Sindh Urban Services Corporation Limited (NSUSC), responsible for water and sewerage issues, has miserably failed. Can the minister brief this House about the unfair water shortage,” he said.
LG minister Jam Khan Shoro said, “The matter does not pertain to my department. NSUSC is being looked after by the planning and development department. So please ask this question to Murad Ali Shah,” he said.
After Murad, senior minister for finance and planning and development, said the matter did not fall under his purview either, MQM lawmakers stood up and asked the speaker who would answer the question.
As the speaker was assuring the opposition MPAs of getting an answer, the chief minister stood up and said “Mr Speaker sir, I want to answer this question,” following which Durrani asked the MQM MPAs to hear the CM. “This government has released Rs90 million for Sukkur. I hope the problem will be overcome,” he said. “Their [MQM] government failed to resolve the issue.”
Continuing, Qaim said “He [Chawla] is acting here. So please don’t allow him to perform acting in this House on the issue.” This annoyed Chawla who became emotional and said “I am not an actor. I just want to know what the PPP government has done for Sukkur’s residents.”
Criticising the PPP government, MQM’s Khawaja Izharul Hasan, the opposition leader, said, “Chawla has done nothing but expose bad governance.” This led to back and forth accusations which made it near impossible to understand what was being said. The speaker, while addressing the MQM MPAs, said, “This is a wrong attitude and you are disturbing the House. Please sit down.”
The MQM lawmakers did not budge and continued their protest, but the assembly staff had switched off their microphones. “Please open our mics. The assembly is not the property of PPP members only,” said Mohammad Hussain, the deputy parliamentary leader of MQM, threatening the assembly staff. As the uproar continued, the CM sat back down.
Senior minister Nisar Ahmed Khuhro and Murad then intervened and requested lawmakers from both sides to calm down and let the proceedings continue.
During the session, lawmakers managed to pass a bill to establish Shaheed Benazir Bhutto University of Technology and Skill Development. According to the bill, presented by Khuhro, the varsity will be set up in Khairpur Mirs. The assembly also passed the Sindh Companies Profit (workers participation) Bill, 2015. Later, the speaker adjourned the session till Monday, announcing to fix three days (Monday to Wednesday) for discussion of the upcoming budget.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 23rd, 2016.