Pre-budget session turned into a resolution tussle over MPA’s kidnapping

PPP tries to appease MQM who threatens to walk out.


Hafeez Tunio June 03, 2011

KARACHI:


Members of the provincial assembly got into a fracas on Friday when the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) wanted to pass a resolution against the kidnapping and assault of their MPA Aleemur Rehman.


Friday’s session was supposed to be a pre-budget session but Rehman’s abduction near Old Sabzi Mandi dominated the proceedings.

The MQM blames the Awami National Party (ANP) and it wanted to adopt a resolution but the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) assured them that their grievances would be resolved and suggested the resolution be deferred. However, MQM members stood up and insisted that Speaker Nisar Ahmed Khuhro permit them to move the resolution. “Let the house decide the fate [of this issue],” said Sardar Ahmed, MQM’s parliamentary leader.

Health Minister and MQM’s Dr Sagheer Ahmed said the SHO New Town recovered the Rehman from the office of their rival political party. “For the first time in the country’s history a sitting MPA was kidnapped and tortured by some terrorists who kept him at their office.” The same people paralysed the city on Friday by setting buses on fire and threatening shopkeepers and traders to shut down their businesses.

“We demand the government take action against these terrorists, otherwise we will protest and walk out of assembly proceedings. Keep in mind that the budget session is around the corner,” he warned.

PPP MPA and Sindh Law Minister Ayaz Soomro said that all suspects nominated in the FIR would be arrested and an impartial inquiry would be conducted. “We request our coalition partner (the MQM) to give us the name of an honest police officer so that we can probe into the matter.”

Soomro said the PPP would brief the chief minister about the matter, but MQM members were adamant. “We will not let this proceeding to continue if this resolution is not adopted,” said Abdul Moeed Siddiqui.

Later, the speaker asked them to move the resolution which was unanimously passed as ANP members were not present in the house. The resolution stated: “This house strongly condemns the abduction, manhandling and harassment of Aleemur Rehman, a sitting MPA, by armed terrorists on May 31 near Old Sabzi Mandi. This house demands the law-enforcement agencies for the immediate arrest of all those culprits nominated in FIR and to shut down their torture cells in different parts of the city.”

After the resolution was passed, MQM members once again wanted to speak on the issue, but the speaker did not allow them this time as Dr Sagheer Ahmed had already spoken. “I will pursue the case. You should trust us,” Speaker Khuhro maintained.

But MQM members shot back: “This is not a tribal area. We are living in Karachi. We will not allow terrorists to reign in the city.”

As if things couldn’t get worse, PPP MPA Akhtar Jadoon said, “The reason behind the incident was nothing else but encroachment.” Before he could finish his sentence, MQM lawmakers stood up again in objection. Some people want to undermine the reconciliation policy of President Zardari and MQM Chief Altaf Hussain, they claimed. “We prefer to speak within the premises of the assembly, otherwise we know who to deal with these criminals,” Dr Sagheer scowled.

Journalist walkout

Reporters who covered the assembly session observed a token walkout in protest against the murder of journalist Saleem Shahzad. They demanded the government provide protection to journalists and arrest the murderers.  During the protest, three Sindh cabinet members assured the reporters that the government would do everything possible to arrest the culprits.

Work not done

Due to the squabbling, major issues on the assembly’s agenda were not taken up - despite Friday being a pre-budget session. Bills, including the GST on services, Thar Coal and Energy Board and Sindh Civil Servants (regularisation of absorption) Bill 2011 and the Zulfiqarabad Development Authority (Amendment) Ordinance, 2011, were scheduled to be discussed or passed.

The speaker adjourned the session till Monday.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 4th, 2011.

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