A resolution against smoking shisha (the hookah or water pipe) in restaurants and public places was unanimously passed during the Sindh Assembly session on Tuesday.
Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) MPA Bachal Shah moved the resolution and said that shisha is the worst form of intoxication. He told his colleagues that most five-star hotels in Karachi and other restaurants across the province were offering this deadly product in a variety of flavours. “Not only boys, but teenage girls also go to restaurants and smoke shisha,” he pointed out. “The Narcotics Act is available but there is no pragmatic approach to implement it.”
Shah accepted that the practice of smoking the hookah was common in the rural parts of Sindh, where both men and women indulge in it. “But shisha is a modern form of the hookah that uses hazardous, aromatic tobacco to attract teenagers,” he added.
Quoting research on this trend, Shah pointed out that, “shisha smokers inhale up to 200 times more tobacco in a single session than a cigarette”.
PPP’s Shazia Marri, who is the minister for power, also supported the resolution. She recalled the time when she saw students, who were still in their O’ Levels, smoking shisha at one of the five-star hotels in Karachi. “It contains carbon monoxide and nicotine, which causes lung cancer and heart diseases,” she said. “It should be termed a criminal offence.”
Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s (MQM) Faisal Subzwari, who is the minister for youth affairs, urged the government to adopt the resolution, enact the law and ensure it is enforced. Sindh Health Minister Dr Sagheer Ahmed said that smoking shisha was a global trend and that the authorities should start a campaign against it. PPP’s Humera Alwani suggested the government ban the import of the type of tobacco used in shisha flavours. After a long discussion, the resolution was passed unanimously.
KESC employees protest
Marri told the house that the people of Karachi end up suffering the most from disputes between the KESC management and employees. She said that the utility sacked over 4,500 workers but reappointed them on the government’s directives. Now, these workers have been placed in the surplus pool and the management is hiring other people on contract.
“The government is with the workers and will ask the KESC management to sit together and resolve the matter,” she said. The minister felt that the government has done everything to minimise load-shedding because Karachi cannot afford to lose its productivity to the power crisis.
In response to the adjournment motion moved by Pakistan Muslim League-Functional’s Marvi Rashdi on target killings, the law minister presented a report and said that the issue cannot be discussed on the floor of the assembly as it was still in court. He showed files of some cases which, according to him, were pending before the Sindh High Court.
Opposition leader Jam Madad Ali said that they will not violate the law, but looking at the worsening law and order situation in the city, the government should fix a day to discuss the issue.
Quaid’s birth place
Alwani told the house that the actual birthplace of Quaid-e-Azam was Jhirk, Thatta, and claimed that she has documentary proof.
In her resolution, she quoted the report of a committee constituted by the then chief minister Abdullah Shah in 1996, when it was proved that Wazir Mansion was not his birthplace.
MQM parliamentary leader Sardar Ahmed, quoted Quaid-e-Azam’s 1948 speech, in which Jinnah said that he was born in Karachi and that he played near the seashore. “We should avoid indulging in this controversy,” he advised. The speaker deferred the resolution and said that it would be taken up with correct wordings next time. Meanwhile, a resolution to establish trauma centres and fire stations on National Highway from Karachi to Ubaro was moved by MQM MPA Bilqees Mukhtiar. It was dropped later on technical grounds.
The session has been adjourned till today (Wednesday).
Published in The Express Tribune, May 11th, 2011.