The federal cabinet unlawfully approved a partisan census, said Sindh government spokesperson Murtaza Wahab on Wednesday. Addressing a press conference in the Sindh Assembly building, Wahab maintained that Prime Minister Imran Khan neither follows the law nor listens to the opposition. Even then, added Wahab, the premier should at least be a man of his words.
The premier had himself decided that the committee formed on the census would reach a decision after hearing the position of the provinces, but the committee presented its report without doing so, said Wahab, who is also the provincial advisor on law, coastal development and environment. And eventually that partisan report was unlawfully approved by the federal cabinet, he added.
The Pakistan Peoples Party-led Sindh government's spokesperson claimed that the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and its coalition partners in the federal government, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) and the Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) hit a scheme to get the controversial census approved but the PPP will fight the case of Sindh.
After a lapse of three years, the federal cabinet approved the 2017 National Census back in December 2020m with a dissenting note submitted by the MQM-P. Since then the MQM-P and the GDA along with the PPP and other mainstream and nationalists parties have raised objections on the census and highlighted discrepancies.
At the press conference, Wahab said that the report approved by the cabinet mentioned objections raised by MQM-P MNA and Federal Information Technology and Telecommunications Minister Syed Aminul Haque, but Haque consented with the contents of the report. The provincial advisor further claimed that GDA MNA Fehmida Mirza, who heads the Inter Provincial Coordination Division, did not fight Sindh's case either.
"It has been proved that the objection has been raised only by the Sindh government" claimed Wahab, lamenting that everyone else "obediently agrees with the two-page report except the Sindh government but nowhere is its dissent mentioned".
Today the Sindh CM had to fight the case of the Council of Common Interests, but the premier adjourned the meeting, said Wahab.
Censuring Federal Maritime Affairs Minister Ali Zaidi, Wahab said that if he wants to ask questions he should ask the premier why prices of flour and sugar have not fallen despite PM Imran taking notice of the price hikes.
Wahab advised Zaidi to contest elections and get elected as a member of the Sindh Assembly if the federal minister wished to rightfully ask questions of the Sindh chief minister. It is a pity that Zaidi tried to blame the Sindh government for rising prices and power shortages though these are both the domains of the federal government, said Wahab.
"The chief minister and federal ministers are not answerable to each other as per the Constitution of Pakistan," stated the provincial advisor. "If Zaidi is that keen to ask questions of the Sindh CM then he should come to the assembly. No provincial government is accountable to the federation. I can question the institutions but there is a procedure laid out for this purpose."
Replying to a question, the spokesperson said that in the meeting referred to in the CM's letter to the premier, he told Zaidi that this attitude was not appropriate for an official meeting and the federal minister's method was not correct. "Even then when Ali Zaidi was leaving from the meeting, I again said that it is unfortunate. If they are morally correct, maybe; but I do not believe in such behavior. It is wrong to say all happened because of me", he added.
Wahab asked PM Imran to explain why the price of sugar crossed past the hundred rupees mark. How did the petroleum crisis happen, asked Wahab, adding that circular debt has reached Rs2,400 billion from Rs1100 billion.
Wahab said that they should ask which federal ministers are exploiting the people and ask which adviser is being paid a huge amount. A grand building is also being regularised, stated Wahab, adding that it is being said that the PM is interested in it.
The spokesperson further inquired when will fire tenders procured by the federal government be handed over to the relevant institutions? Where is the University of Hyderabad that was to be established in the Prime Minister House, asked Wahab. He also questioned when would schools be built in the Prime Minister House and Governor House.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 28th, 2021.