KARACHI: Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) - Pakistan lawmakers boycotted on Friday the Sindh Assembly proceedings and attempted to join the mayor's protest outside the assembly while protesting the non-inclusion of proposals in the Sindh budget 2017-18 made by the city council.
As a number of city council members, along with Karachi Mayor Wasim Akthar, reached outside the assembly, the MQM-Pakistan lawmakers stood at their seats inside the assembly and demanded powers for the elected local bodies.
"Local bodies' representatives from different political parties, along with the mayor, are protesting outside this building as not a single scheme proposed by the mayor has been included in the upcoming budget," opposition leader Khawaja Izharul Hassan said, adding that the representatives wanted to talk to government representatives, but the assembly gates had been closed.
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Responding to Hassan, Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani said that after the local bodies election, he had welcomed the mayor in the assembly, but now, they have besieged the assembly building and warned of dire consequences.
"What is the harm if the assembly passed the law [on local bodies]. Please don't try to question the credibility of the assembly," Durrani said, adding that the mayor and other people should avoid marching towards this august house, which has passed local government law paving the way for the mayor's election.
Syed Sardar Ahmed of MQM-Pakistan said that the party has been protesting for their rights and the provincial government representatives must negotiate with them.
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Meanwhile, Muhammad Hussain of MQM-Pakistan warned that the party would boycott the session if no one from the government negotiated with the mayor.
Hassan became emotional and said, "This protest is not being held against the assembly, but against the government".
He added that no one could close the doors of negotiation in a democracy. "If this assembly has security threats from the mayor then there is a threat from the CM too," he said.
The budget has been presented in this House and no one is being politically victimised, clarified the Food and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Nisar Ahmed Khuhro, adding that the government had not rejected the mayor's proposals.
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Hassan requested other opposition members to join them in the protest by staging a walkout.
"We are now going to join the mayor's protest and will not participate in the budget session until and unless the local government representatives' protest continues," he said.
After making this statement, the MQM member boycotted the session. However, no other opposition member from the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, Pakistan Muslim League - Nawaz or Pakistan Muslim League - Functional joined MQM's protest.
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Opposition members from other parties did, however, stage a token walkout, but later returned to the assembly proceedings.
After the session, Khuhro, while addressing a press conference, said that the government has allocated Rs12 billion to Karachi and every month, it releases Rs500 million to the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation as a grant.
"We want to know how many schemes have been initiated in the city by the mayor," Khuhro said.
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The Sindh Assembly has passed the local government law and the mayor's protest lack of confidence in the assembly, he said, adding that MQM and its mayor want to recall a dictator's local government system and gain powers, which is not possible in a democracy.
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