KARACHI: Irked by the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP)-led Sindh government's 'apathy', members of the opposition parties in the Sindh Assembly are considering the possibility of approaching the court against the government for stopping community development funds, The Express Tribune learnt on Tuesday.
According to Pakistan Muslim League - Functional (PML-F) MPA Nusrat Seher Abbasi, the PPP-led government is victimising them. Opposition members complain of 'discriminatory approach' on part of the treasury as they have been denied community development funds.
Members belonging to all the opposition parties have submitted various development schemes but not a single penny has been released so far.
"Every MPA with the consultation of [their respective] communities has to submit development schemes in his or her constituency," shared Abbasi. "Despite the lapse of seven months, funds for opposition members have not been released."
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She complained that the situation for the treasury benches is totally different as the government has not only released the funds to them but they have almost finished different schemes pertaining to roads, drinking water plants and schools buildings among others.
"We are being victimised by [the] PPP government," she lamented. "People living in our constituencies also belong to Sindh. I don't know why PPP punishes poor people in the name of opposition constituency."
According to the rules, the government has to release around Rs40 million for schemes submitted by each MPA. These schemes are initiated with the help of community and local administration.
"I have submitted many schemes in the last three-and-a-half years but not a single scheme has been included in this [year's annual development] programme," Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) MPA Rana Ansar said, adding that March 15 is the final date for submitting development schemes at the planning and development department for the schemes to be incorporated in next budget.
"We have only 15 days," she said. "If our schemes are not taken up, then funds allocated for MPAs will again lapse."
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No results despite complaints
In the house of provincial assembly comprising 168 seats, 94 belong to the treasury while 74 are part of the opposition benches. Opposition leader in the Sindh Assembly, Khawaja Izharul Hassan, confirmed that opposition funds have been stopped without citing any reason.
"A number of times we have raised this issue in [the] assembly and talked to [the] chief minister but nothing has so far come out," he said. "We will protest in the upcoming session if our funds are not released."
Nand Kumar, the parliamentary leader of PML-F, referred to his meeting with the finance department officials. "Bureaucrats have been directed not to release funds to opposition members," he told The Express Tribune.
He said that their schemes will not just develop their areas - it will contribute to the development of Sindh. He was of the view that the PPP, which always claims to stand for democracy, has shown its real face of fascism by pushing opposition members to the wall.
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"We are consulting with constitutional experts and will challenge the discriminatory [attitude] of [the] government in [the] court of law," Kumar said.
Meanwhile, a senior official in the finance department refuted reports that the PPP-led government or chief minister have directed them to stop the release of opposition funds.
"We are vetting the schemes submitted by opposition and even treasury members," said an additional secretary in the finance department, requesting anonymity.
Parliamentary Minister Nisar Ahmed Khuhro said that his party believes in democratic norms and funds are equally released to all the MPAs in the assembly without any discrimination. "I don't see discrimination in it," he stated.
Opposition parties' meeting
On the other hand, opposition parties held a meeting in the Sindh Assembly. Corruption, bad governance, development schemes and possible alliances in the upcoming election were among other things on the agenda. MQM, PML-F and Pakistan Muslim League - Nawaz MPAs attended the meeting.
"We have discussed various issues and [are] devising a joint strategy," said opposition leader Hassan. "All the opposition parties can join hands against the government and make an alliance with seat adjustment against PPP in the next general elections."
He added that PPP has looted and plundered Sindh's resources and they will start a campaign to expose the party's wrongdoings.