KARACHI: Tensions ran high in the outset of the Sindh Assembly session on Friday when some Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) lawmakers requested the Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani to allow them to move a resolution condemning the attack on their MPA, Ramzan Ghanchi, who sustained bullet wounds during a clash with Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) workers in Timber Market on Thursday. The speaker, realising the anger of the Opposition, adjourned the session till Monday.
PTI leader Haleem Adil Shaikh said, “PPP hooligans have attacked a member of this House. So, please take up our resolution”. Giving a lukewarm response, the Speaker said, “Let me finish the agenda. I have announced for question and answers”. He added, “I will give you a chance. Wait please”.
The Opposition leader, Firdous Shamim Naqvi, along with PTI MPAs stood up in protest against the Speaker’s remarks. Other Opposition members from Muttahida Qaumi Movement – Pakistan (MQM-P) and Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) followed suit.
Local Government Minister Saeed Ghani and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Mukesh Kumar Chawla assured the protesting PTI MPAs that their grievances would be resolved. However, no one from the Opposition was willing to bow down and they all seemed prepared for protest in the House.
“This is not the way. Please give me some minutes to finish this agenda. I will listen to you,” said the Speaker as he attempted to woo the enraged PTI lawmakers who stood before his podium shouting, “No, no”. Finding no other way, Durrani abruptly adjourned the session, just for ten minutes. As he left for his chamber, the PTI MPAs staged a sit-in before his chair. They started shouting slogans against PPP and its leadership. The House echoed with slogans “Go Zardari Go”. PPP members who were also present in the House reacted in the same fashion and shouted slogans of “go Niazi go,” referring to Prime Minister Imran Khan. After the ten-minute break when the speaker resumed the session, opposition members repeated their demand.
“I have already announced question and answers session and can’t leave it in middle,” said Durrani. Arif Mustafa Jatoi and Nusrat Seher Abbasi whose questions pertaining to prisons departments were on agenda said that they were withdrawing their questions and requested that their resolution against the attack on the MPA be taken up.
The speaker said, “No rule allows me to withdraw the questions on agenda”. Jatoi, referring to the rules said, “A mover can withdraw his questions,” however, the speaker did not budge and proceeded with questions answer sessions. Prisons Minister Nasir Shah raising his hand said, “I am ready to give answers about my department”. When Durrani announced the first questions, Jatoi, the mover of the questions, amid the noisy session said, “I am withdrawing my question”. Opposition members wanted to “skip” the question-answer session in order to take their turn for resolution.
The parliamentary minister requesting the Speaker said, “Our members tend to ask supplementary questions if the Opposition is unwilling to go for it”. As he finished his words, some female PPP MPAs stood up and started asking supplementary questions. This caused pandemonium in the House. The joint opposition members, except for Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) and Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), tore the agenda copies and thumbed up their desks with slogans against PPP and Sindh government.
As treaury members continued the session, some PTI members approached the prisons minister and surrounded him to stop him from giving answers, creating a situation for a brawl. Some PPP ministers including Ghani rushed to avert the untoward situation and heated arguments ensued. Looking at the situation, the speaker adjourned the session till Monday. Even after the session was adjourned, some PTI MPAs continued their protest in House, waving victory signs to journalists sitting in the press gallery.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 26th, 2019.