KARACHI: The Sindh Assembly adopted a unanimous resolution on Tuesday against the ‘unilateral’ decision of the federal government to appoint its representative member of Indus River System Authority (IRSA) from outside of Sindh. The lawmakers continued their protest against the Centre’s policy on the issue.
Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah raised the issue on the floor of the house. “IRSA has one member each from all the provinces and as per practices, the federal representative is also appointed from Sindh which covers the tail end areas of Indus River,” he said. According to the CM, the objective of the federal government to appoint its member from Sindh in 1999 was to protect the interests of people living in the lower riparian.
“Today the federal cabinet has decided to appoint its representative from outside of Sindh. This is negation and direct contravention of the law,” said the CM.
He asked opposition lawmakers, including those of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P), to support Sindh on this issue. He reiterated that the Sindh government would protest against this decision of the Centre at all forums whether the opposition members supported it or not.
However, Haleem Adil Sheikh of the PTI, Hasnain Mirza of GDA, and Kanwar Naveed Jameel of the MQM-P expressed their support for the resolution.
Mirza referred to his mother, Dr Fahmida Mirza, who is a member of the federal cabinet and said that she was out of the country at the moment but as heirs of Sindh the GDA would defend its right. He said that his party would not compromise on this issue.
He did, however, raise fingers at a similar decision made by the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) government in 2010. “You protest now but I wonder why the PPP remained silent when former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani made the same decision [in 2010]”.
PTI’s Sheikh maintained that his party and other opposition lawmakers would stand by the Sindh government when it came to the province’s issues. He supported the resolution but did launch his critique against the PPP’s failure to address HIV, dengue and dog-bite cases in Sindh.
Similarly, Khwaja Izharul Hasan of the MQM-P extended his support on the resolution but expressed concerns over Karachi not receiving its due share and its people being excluded from government jobs.
“The opposition members of this house support this resolution. However, we want to know how much representation has been given to opposition parties in government departments including the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KWSB), Karachi Development Authority (KDA) and public universities,” he said. The MPA noted that out of the 11 members of the Sindh Public Service Commission, not a single one belonged to Karachi.
The CM thanked the opposition lawmakers for their support on the resolution. “I wonder on the prime minister’s decision to ignore the grievances of his party members and appoint the IRSA member from outside of Sindh,” he said.
The house passed the resolution moved by the PPP MPA Ghanwer Ali Isran and demanded that the issue be taken up with the federal government and the Centre’s decision be withdrawn. The session adjourned till Friday.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 23rd, 2019.