Govt MNAs protest against arrest of Haleem Shaikh

Bill on Senate vote change tabled in NA


Haseeb Hanif February 22, 2021
Haleem Adil Shaikh. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD:

In a rare move, National Assembly members (MNAs) belonging to the treasury benches created uproar during Monday’s session and lashed out against the Sindh government over the arrest of opposition leader in the Sindh Assembly, Haleem Adil Shaikh, in Karachi.

The treasury members chanted slogans against the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and tore up the copies of the agenda. They also pushed Agha Rafiullah of the PPP to provoke him, before the session was adjourned because of a lack of quorum.

The session was held with Speaker Asad Qaiser in the chair. The proceedings were continuing normally, when all of a sudden, the government lawmakers started raising slogans against the Sindh government.

Later, the treasury members from Karachi approached the seat of Rafiullah and pushed him amid loud sloganeering. During the clash, Maulana Abdul Akbar Chitrali and Ali Muhammad Khan tried to intervene to keep the two sides apart.

Meanwhile, Agha Rafiullah pointed out the quorum. Amid loud noise the counting was conducted and the house was short of the required strength of members. On that the Speaker adjourned the sitting until on Tuesday.

Read more: 'Deadly' snake found in room where police locked up PTI's Haleem Sheikh

Earlier, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan presented the Special Technology Zone Authority Ordinance. In addition, the Election Amendment Ordinance 2021 on Article 89 (2) of the Constitution relating to Senate elections was also introduced.

At the outset, the lawmakers offered Fateha for four martyred women in North Waziristan and the sister of fellow MNA Sibghatullah Virk. Maulana Abdul Akbar Chitrali, of the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) recited the Fateha.

During the proceedings, Faheem Khan told the house that the condition of hospitals in Karachi was very bad and urged the prime minister to intervene. However, Shazia Marri of the PPP replied that the present government had increased the prices of medicines by 500-600%.

Parliamentary Secretary for Health Noshin Hamid replied that the PPP-led provincial government could not shirk away from its responsibility on the pretext of the drugs price hike. She added that the Sindh government had refused to give health cards to the people.

In reply to a question, Hamid told the house that the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) was not being privatised, instead it would be made an autonomous institution. She added that the PIMS would take its own decisions.

Noshin Hamid, while replying to another question from Qadir Patel, said that the government was in touch with 60 companies for the provision of Covid-19 vaccine. She added that people of the age of 65 and above would receive vaccine from the first week of March, free of charge.

Chitrali asked the government when the National Assembly members would get the vaccine, as they also work on the front lines. In response, Noshin Hamid said that whoever wanted to get vaccinated could receive the jab in March.

In reply to another question, Railway Minister Azam Swati said that building gates at the railway crossings was the responsibility of the provincial governments. He added that he had discussed the matter with the chief ministers of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Parliamentary Secretary for Railways Farrukh Habib told the house that before the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government took office, the total deficit of the railways—from 1970 to 2018 -- had reached Rs1.2 trillion.

Habib said that the government had reduced the deficit by Rs4 billion during its first year in office. He told the house that the annual salary bill of the railways was Rs29 billion, while the pensions bill was Rs34 billion.

The parliamentary secretary vowed to make the railways a profitable institution. The biggest project in the history of railways was the Mainline (ML)-1, he said. The project, which is part of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), he added, would generate 100,000 jobs.

Agha Rafiullah mentioned that a government member had said that railway jobs were being sold, adding that the matter should be referred to the relevant committee. Farrukh Habib replied that the government gave jobs to the people in a transparent manner.

Parliamentary Secretary for Food Security Amir Sultan told the house that a subsidy of Rs6 billion had been earmarked for cotton this year, out of which Rs300 million had been released. He added that two new cotton seeds had been introduced in the country.


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