Lawmakers go off topic during post-budget session

Ruling party MPAs hurl accusations at opposition party members

Our Correspondent May 22, 2018

KARACHI: Political point scoring dominated the post-budget proceedings at the Sindh Assembly on Monday. Even on the eighth day of the budget session, lawmakers mostly criticised each other rather than debating on the budget.

As the session started with Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani in chair, lawmakers of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) - Pakistan started rebuking each other. "Some people don't respect the assembly. This House has given them respect, name and fame but they have started waving shoes. This is highly condemnable," Parliamentary Minister Nisar Ahmed Khuhro said.

The Sindh Assembly was the first legislative assembly that passed a resolution to create a separate homeland for Muslims in the Subcontinent, Khuhro said. Referring to an episode in the assembly on Saturday when Pakistan Muslim League - Functional (PML-F) MPA Nusrat Seher Abbasi waved her shoes during an argument with the deputy speaker, Khuhro said an assembly member had breached the House's privilege by holding her shoes in her hand. "A few members of the National Assembly of her party keep mum in Parliament and the federal cabinet and don't utter a single word for Sindh. We know who is loyal and who is a traitor," he said.

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Khuhro became visibly emotional while criticising the federal government and opposition parties. The federal government is unwilling to announce the National Finance Commission Award which is due since 2015, he alleged.

Deputy Speaker Shehla Raza chose to talk on the quota system rather than the budget. She said it was dictators and undemocratic forces that continued the quota system. "Why did the MQM not raise this issue during General Musharraf's tenure when it had full power and authority in the federal government? Why is it now highlighting this issue?" she asked, responding to the speeches of MQM MPAs who spoke against the quota system in government jobs in Sindh.

"Zulfikar Ali Bhutto had introduced this system temporarily, but General Zia and others continued it," she maintained. Regarding the Pucca Qila operation in Hyderabad, she said the action was against terrorists who had taken refuge in the area and those terrorists used women and children as shields. The deputy speaker accused the MQM of killing those who helped it in critical times.

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Raza also included the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) in her tirade. "The education system is on the verge of collapse in K-P [Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa]. Instead of bringing reforms, the provincial government is funding militants," she alleged, adding that the K-P government's funding Samiul Haq's seminary showed the intentions of the Imran Khan-led party in the province.

Law Minister Ziaul Hasan Lanjar ruled out the possibility of carving out another province from Sindh. Reacting to the MQM's demand for a separate province, he said, "Those who demand a separate province live in a fool's paradise [as] this will never happen".

Responding to Abbasi for calling him 'tea boy', Lanjar confirmed that he used to ride a motorcycle and said he was proud of it. "What were your credentials and credibility before becoming a member of this House? Everyone in the House knows your past," he remarked, without naming her.

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According to the law minister, it was the PPP that took action against terrorists in the province. Apparently taking a jab at the MQM, he said people sitting on opposition benches had always released notorious terrorists from jails on parole.

Leader of the Opposition Khawaja Izharul Hasan did not criticise the ruling party for its failure to deliver in the last 10 years. He, however, rejected the  new provincial budget. "They [the provincial government] always call their budgets tax-free but the budget books show that the government has imposed taxes on 46 items in the current fiscal year," he said.

Hasan alleged that the education department printed books and sold the same to scrap dealers.  He added that the Karachi package was nothing but a farce as the government had only allocated funds for two or three roads. "We want to know where is the Karachi Circular Railway project. What happened to K-IV and why has the government failed to give a mass transit or proper transport system to Karachi?" he asked.

After Hassan's speech, the speaker adjourned the session till today (Tuesday).


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