Post-budget: Sindh Assembly session goes haywire

Opposition members hurl accusations at one another, fail to have any concrete discussion


Hafeez Tunio June 14, 2017
Sindh Home Minister Sohail Anwar Siyal. PHOTO: APP

KARACHI: The post-budget proceedings in the Sindh Assembly were once again marred on Tuesday as the members on either side of the fence tested their prowess while hurling accusations against each other.

In the last five days, hardly a few members have spoken as most of them continue to drag political issues in the session.

"The politics of bodies stuffed in gunny bags have now stopped. Extortion and kidnapping incidents are over. Now normality and peace is limping back in the entire province," said Sindh Home Minister Suhail Anwar Siyal in his speech.

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"People of Sindh ask where the killers of the May 12 incident are," said Siyal, questioning the opposition, especially the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) - Pakistan members about the incident. "Can Khawaja Izharul Hassan tell us who the home adviser was when the May 12 riots took place in 2007 and why the police did not take action?" questioned Siyal.

"No trader or shopkeeper on Tariq Road pays extortion and street crime is decreasing with each passing day," he said, giving credit to the police, Rangers and other law enforcement agencies for keeping a control on the worsening law and order situation in the city. "[The] federal government has nothing to do with peace in Karachi. Neither has it helped," he added.

The situation in the session became tense when Pakistan Muslim League - Functional parliamentary leader Nand Kumar questioned about Rs391 billion, which have allegedly been misappropriated in the last nine years.

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"You always criticise us for supporting the army or dictators. Do you know who used to utter the words 'daddy' for the then army general Ayub Khan and who had written a letter to General Sikandar Mirza calling him a more popular leader than the founder of Pakistan, Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah," Kumar said, referring to the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) founder Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. On this, the PPP members protested and asked the deputy speaker to expunge Kumar's remarks.

Meanwhile, Samar Ali Khan of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf said that the chief minister had announced an education emergency in the province as 50% of the children in Sindh are not enrolled in schools and 65% of the school buildings in the province are decapitated.

"I am surprised to see the members of this house thumping the desk when any of us use derogatory language. We should discourage the use of non-parliamentary language in this House," he said referring to the frequent use of such language during the session by MPAs while referring to each other.

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MQM MPA Naila Munir drew the House's attention towards the long queues outside various hospitals and laboratories where patients and their attendants continue to wait for their turn to receive medicines.

"No honorable member of this House gets their children enrolled in government schools and visits public hospitals for medicine. How can the system improve?" Munir questioned.

She expressed concern over the meager amount of funds allocated to Karachi in the Sindh budget 2017-18 and said, "It looks like Karachi, which is the economic hub of Pakistan, is getting zakat from Sindh".

She added that a sense of deprivation has compelled Karachiites to demand the establishment of a new province from within Sindh.

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Meanwhile, Mumtaz Jakhrani of PPP questioned where the billions of rupees in General Musharraf's tenure were spent. However, Kamran Akhtar of MQM-Pakistan said that in the last nine years, the performance of PPP's government has been dull and it has snatched the rights of the people rather than providing them with relief.

"Water, sanitation, education, health and transport are among the other issues which have not been resolved. The PPP government has proved that democracy is the best revenge" said Akhtar.

Referring to the pending cases in court, Akhtar said, "[The] court has asked about a lady who had bungled Rs90 billion. Can anyone tell us the name of this lady who had misappropriated such a huge amount."

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On the Karachi package, Akhtar said that out of Rs10 billion allocated in the outgoing year, Rs3 billion has yet to be spent. "We don't trust the Sindh government and request the federal government to give [more] development funds to Karachi," he said, alleging that the government also allocates funds in the budget for 8,000 ghost schools of the province.

Owais Shah of PPP, while rebutting Akhtar's claims of discrimination against Karachi, said that the incumbent Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah has focused on Karachi's schemes and with his personal interest, dozens of roads, flyovers, bridges, underpasses and parks are [now] under construction.

Meanwhile, clarifying the government's stance on powers conferred to the Karachi mayor and the funds released to Karachi and Hyderabad, Local Government Minister Jam Khan Shoro said, "A subsidy of Rs50 billion is given to Karachi every month and we release Rs3 million to Hyderabad to meet their expenses". The mayor should work within the powers given to him by the Sindh Assembly, Shoro said.

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The Solid Waste Management Authority has been set up and the government has started work on lifting the garbage in Districts South and East, he said. "After 40 years, Karachi's roads are being washed daily," he said, adding that over employment in Karachi Metropolitan Corporation and Karachi Water and Sewerage Board has created a problem.

"There were around 15,000 employees when Naimatullah Khan was nazim (mayor) of Karachi. Now, there are more than 60,000 employees," he said, adding that the Sindh government has spent Rs7 billion for various projects in Karachi.

Later, the deputy speaker adjourned the session till today (Wednesday).

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