Opposition snubs govt’s call for joint resolution, continues protest for PAC

Sindh Assembly passes two resolutions on Women's Day without participation from Opposition

Hafeez Tunio March 09, 2019
Sindh Assembly Session. PHOTO: FILE

KARACHI: The Sindh Assembly on Friday passed two different resolutions to acknowledge the remarkable contribution of women in developing a progressive society in Pakistan.

As the Opposition parties continued their protest on the issue of standing committees and chairmanship of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), they did not take part in the debate to mark the International Women's Day.

Members from the Treasury benches repeatedly invited the protesting Opposition members from Pakistan Tehreek- e-Insaf (PTI), Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM) and Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) to take part in the proceedings dedicated to women's day. The Opposition parties, however, refused to budge.

The Opposition members have been protesting for the last five days demanding the PAC, but the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) led government has rejected out-right their demand, offering them 14 standing committees of various departments instead.

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Throughout the proceedings on Friday, Opposition members kept shouting the slogan: "PAC do" [Give us PAC], only to be responded by the Treasury members:  "PAC nahen milege" [We won't give you PAC).

The spark

As the session started after Juma prayers with Deputy Speaker Rehana Leghari in the chair, PTI's Khurrum Sher Zaman requested to speak on a point of order, pertaining to the formation of PAC. As was expected, the issue sparked a hue and cry, with the deputy speaker refusing to allow him to speak. "App ke marzi nahen chalege. Aap mujhe dictate nahen kar sakte [You can't impose your will. You can't dictate me]," said the deputy speaker.

The Opposition members gathered in front of the Speaker's podium. At this point, Speaker Durrani, who had been in his chamber, entered the House and took the chair. "Their throats are so long. Let them cry," he said, referring to the protesting lawmakers.

Durrani then gave the floor to the agriculture minister to respond to questions about his department. The agriculture minister briefed the House about departmental reforms and government initiatives on sugarcane price, procurement and subsidies for farmers.

Next came the call-attention session.

PPP MPA Ghazala Siyal, in her call-attention notice, asked about the government's measures to deal with disaster and war-like situation. Provincial minister Imtiaz Shaikh referred to the government's "War Book" and said, "We declared emergency in all hospitals, mobilised various departments, established camps at the district level and set up cells for coordination between civil and military institutions."

MMA's Abdul Rashid, who was manhandled by PTI MPAs on Thursday, in his call-attention notice about dilapidated condition of roads and other infrastructure in district South, criticised PTI MPAs for their negligence in public interest issues. "We are discussing important issues here, but they are up in arms just for their vested interests," he said. "The PAC does not matter.

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Please come and discuss issues here," he said, adding that in the last five days, many call-attention notices and other agenda have been deferred due to the "ongoing unnecessary protests by the Opposition parties". Rashid added that the PTI and PPP were in power in District South, Karachi, but they had miserably failed to resolve public issues. "Millions of rupees are allocated in the KMC's budget, but they have failed to undertake development work in the city," he remarked.

International Women's Day

During the session, some PPP MPAs drew the Speaker's attention towards "International Women's Day" and sought time to present resolutions.

The Speaker, addressing the protesting MPAs, said, "Please give up your protest for the sake of International Women's Day," he said. "Let's give a joint tribute to women."

But no one from the Opposition, including women MPAs, was willing to listen.

The Speaker gave the floor to PPP MPA Heer Soho, who moved a resolution to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women, especially the prominent Pakistanis who had played their role in the country's development through their various contributions. As the debate started on the resolution, the Opposition members walked out of the session.

In a separate resolution, MMA's Rashid not only paid tribute to women, but demanded Prime Minister Imran Khan to take measures to ensure the release of Aafia Siddiqui, the Pakistani neuroscientist languishing in a US government prison.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 9th, 2019.


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