KARACHI: Lawmakers questioned the motives of the Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE) during the Sindh Assembly session on Wednesday.
Many MPAs wondered if there was a department to contain the corruption within ACE. “Instead of taking action, the ACE officials are greasing their palms. Who will take action against them?” questioned Nusrat Seher Abbasi of Pakistan Muslim League-Functional (PML-F) during the question-answer session.
It took around three years to lodge an FIR against corrupt officials working in the environment and alternate energy department, she pointed out. “How can you give relief to people if lodging an FIR takes three years?” she said, referring to a 2013 complaint of corruption worth Rs1.1 million against a superintendent of the environment department whose FIR was registered in 2015.
Parliamentary minister Nisar Ahmed Khuhro defended his government. A few committees reviewed the case before lodging the FIR, he said. “It took some time because the chief secretary gave his nod initially and then it was referred to other committees for the registration of the case,” he explained, adding that government is hoping to make this system faster.
Sorath Thebo of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz diverted the attention of the house towards zero cases of anti-corruption registered in Benazirabad and Mirpurkhas districts. “As far as I know there are no sacred cows but kings of corruption living in these districts,” she claimed. “Why hasn’t the anti-corruption department failed to detect even a single case?”
Her comments offended the treasury members and former anti-corruption minister Manzoor Wasan stood up to criticise the opposition members. “More than 36,000 acres of land record was tampered with by PML-F members in Khairpur Mirs alone,” he claimed, adding that those who are levelling allegations of corruption are corrupt themselves.
This led to a war of words between PML-F MPAs and Wasan. Deputy speaker Shehla Raza had to step in to bring the session back in order.
Rangers powers for Sindh
MPAs of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) demanded the government extend special powers to the Rangers. PTI MPA Khurrum Sher Zaman, who has also submitted a resolution on this issue, said, “Powers must be given for an indefinite time across Sindh,” he said, talking to the media outside the assembly.
The same demand came from MQM’s Hasan, who also demanded the empowerment and strengthening of the police, which is permanent force to deal with criminals and terrorist activities.
With Raza chairing, Wednesday’s Sindh Assembly session started with a Fateha for the late Sindh governor, Justice (retd) Saeeduz Zaman Siddiqui.
During point of order, opposition leader Khawaja Izharul Hasan raised the issue of a rise in street crimes. “No nook and cranny is free of this menace,” he said. “We have also submitted a resolution on it and we request the government to appoint a home minister without any delay.”
Hasan also diverted the House’s attention towards the death of his party worker in Karachi jail. “This is the third such incident inside the jail, which is deprived of all basic facilities,” he said, demanding better health facilities inside Sindh’s prisons, which according to him have now turned into torture cells.
A bill pertaining to Zakat and Ushr was referred to the standing committee for review. The assembly dismissed the adjournment motion moved by Abbasi for the establishment of new medical colleges in Sindh. The session was adjourned till today.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 19th, 2017.