KARACHI: An adjournment motion on an alleged Rs6 billion scam in the purchase of medicines for government hospitals was turned down by the Sindh Assembly speaker on Monday.
As the session started with Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani in chair, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) parliamentary leader Khurrum Sher Zaman moved the adjournment motion. "Officials of the health department have bungled a huge sum of money through the purchase of spurious medicines for government hospitals in Sindh," he said, citing a report by the auditor-general of Pakistan (AGP). Zaman added that the National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases was among such hospitals which purchased expired and sub-standard medicine.
"These officials are playing with the lives of innocent people. I request this House to admit my motion so that we can discuss this important issue," he said.
The speaker, however, refused to oblige the PTI parliamentary leader. "You have not learnt anything even after spending almost five years in this House," he said, adding that Zaman did not know the rules.
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Durrani gave the floor to Parliamentary Minister Nisar Ahmed Khuhro so he could present the government's version on the adjournment motion. "The honourable member [Zaman] has leveled serious allegations, but has not presented supporting evidence to justify [them]," he said, opposing the motion. The parliamentary minister added that though Zaman had referred to an AGP report, he did not attach the document with the adjournment motion.
"It is easy to blame someone, but difficult to prove it," Khuhro said, adding that Zaman had breached the privilege of the assembly by presenting incorrect figures and misjudging everyone sitting in the house. "The adjournment motion is against the rules so it cannot be taken up for discussion," he said.
During the discussion, the speaker left the House and Deputy Speaker Shehla Raza took over and, after hearing Khuhro's comments, dismissed the adjournment motion, calling it out of order.
MPAs irked by ministers' absence
Earlier, opposition MPAs expressed disappointment over the absence of provincial ministers who were supposed to respond to call attention notices moved by lawmakers. The ministers who did not attend the proceedings included the excise and taxation, local government, women development, health, and livestock ministers.
Fruitless Sindh Assembly session adjourned till Monday
Due to the absence of the ministers, all 10 call attention notices pertaining to public importance issues including health, water, sanitation and education, were finished within minutes. Pakistan Muslim League - Functional (PML-F) MPA Mahtab Akbar Rashdi protested against the ministers' absence. "We bring important issues in the House but ministers are absent. Now who will give us answers?" she asked, adding that there was no need for call attention notices and even the assembly session if ministers were unwilling to respond.
The speaker endorsed Rashdi's protest and said, "I have also pointed this out, but unfortunately no one takes it seriously". He directed the parliamentary minister to ensure the presence of ministers in the House.
Pakistan Muslim League - Nawaz MNA Ameer Hyder Shah drew the House's attention towards the dilapidated condition of Shah Jahan Mosque in Thatta and asked if the government had taken any efforts to renovate it, to which Culture Minister Syed Sardar Ali Shah replied that the provincial government was working to preserve the historical site and had also allocated Rs67 million in 2016 for the purpose.
MPA takes oath
Newly elected Pakistan Peoples Party MPA Abdul Bari Pitafi also took oath on Monday. The speaker administrated the oath to him. Pitafi won the PS-7 by-election after defeating a PML-F candidate. The seat had fallen vacant after the death of PPP MPA Sardar Ahmed Ali Pitafi in January this year.
At the end, the deputy speaker prorogued the session for indefinite time.
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