Nearly six years ago, people claiming to be from the YMCA gave one of their plots to someone who set up a Mela restaurant and charged parking lot. Today, Sindh’s ministers confessed that they did not have the power to have this illegal encroachment removed. The same applies to squatters in Thatta’s Hindu temples.
“We asked the police to remove the encroachment in Karachi and other districts, but they are not cooperating with us,” said Agha Siraj Durrani, minister for local government.
The same lament came from minorities minister, Mohan Lal Kohistani. “We will try again and hope that encroachments … will be removed by next year.”
An annoyed speaker asked how squatters had dared to occupy an amenity plot in the heart of the city right, next to Governor House and Chief Minister House. “I fail to understand why the state has not taken action. This valuable property cannot be left encroached,” Nisar Khuhro said.
The Sindh High Court had passed a judgment last month and the Nazir of the court was asked to get have the squatters removed with the help of the Karachi Building and Control Authority. “[Everyone], including Nazir of the court are reluctant to pursue the case,” said Kohistani.
Matters are much worse in Thatta, where six out of 46 temples and one church have been taken over by influential people. “One of the temples has been occupied by a policeman and we have asked the local administration to take action,” said Kohistani, adding that people mostly wanted the land next to the temples. But MPA Sassui Palijo, who hails from Thatta, said that even Hindus were involved.
After the Azad Jammu and Kashmir elections were postponed on Saturday, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) boycotted the Sindh Assembly proceedings in protest as this would affect the Kashmiri voters in Karachi, who were part of the MQM vote bank. The MQM’s Faisal Sabzwari decried the paradox that the chief minister had just said there was no law and order problem but the chief of Sindh police had written the Election Commission to postpone the polls, claming that the law and order situation in Karachi had deteriorated. “People belonging to Kashmir and living in our constituencies [in Karachi] are now depressed,” said Subzwari. “This is aimed at influencing voters to avoid casting their vote.”
Was it not strange, he said, that Federal Interior Minister Rehman Malik had arrived in the city and held a meeting with the IGP after which the government suddenly announced that it was postponing the AJK election. The MQM had mobilised people and postponing the polls was an injustice to them. “This is meant to discourage democratic culture,” he said.
MQM lawmaker refused to return to the house despite requests from Ayaz Soomro, Jam Mahtab Dahar and Murad Ali Shah. Subzwari told the media that the Pakistan Peoples Party just wanted one of the MQM candidates to withdraw from the election.
Resolution against Rana Sanaullah
PPP lawmakers criticised the Pakistan Muslim League and its leaders for the third consecutive day and passed a resolution against Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah and his government. They said he had used derogatory language against PPP Senator Babar Awan by making the unethical statement that he was wajibul qatal (liable to be killed). The resolution was moved by Nadeem Bhutto while Shazia Marri, Rafique Engineer, Imdad Pitafi and others spoke.
Shortage of water
Most of the MPAs raised the issue of severe water shortage. Despite abundant flows in the River Indus, canals had been dried out. Many growers in our areas complain that water has not reached and they will not be able to sow the paddy crop, they said. Food Minister Nadir Magsi said the president had asked the irrigation minister to do something. The speaker said that he would convene a meeting on Wednesday with him.
The Sindh Assembly took strong exception to a news item on non-functional schools. The issue was referred to a standing committee. The news item said that out of 49,000 schools in the province only 7,000 were working.
Two bills to set up the University of Sufism and Modern Sciences at Bhitshah and the Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Dewan University were also introduced during the session.
The speaker prorogued it indefinitely.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 26th, 2011.