MPAs scale walls of locked assembly

Opposition kept at bay a day after bringing funeral of democracy


Hafeez Tunio June 30, 2021
Sindh Assembly Session. PHOTO: NNI

KARACHI:

A day after the 'funeral of democracy' was brought to the house, MPAs jumping walls and locked doors were the latest twist in the recent tale of the Sindh Assembly which had seen protests and sit-ins over the last few days.

After many years, the Sindh Assembly's doors were closed on Tuesday following the tense situation created by the demonstrations of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf.

MPAs from opposition parties scaled up the walls and the ruling party's members entered thought Gate-3 which is usually reserved for the speaker and chief minister.

PTI held, what it called, the "funeral of the democracy" on Monday and compelled Sindh Assembly Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani to suspend eight MPAs of the party. The lawmakers were suspended from the current session for disorderly conduct and damaging the sanctity of the house by bringing a charpoy covered in sheets.

The session was scheduled for 2pm. As opposition members belonging to PTI reached the assembly building, the main gate was locked and guarded by security as well as police.

"Why have you locked the gate?" Sindh Assembly Opposition Leader Haleem Adil Sheikh asked the security staff. "Open it. We are MPAs. This is not the CM or Bilawal House," he asserted.

The opposition leader reminded officials that the assembly was for all its members. Sheikh himself arrived with a musical band as a form of protest against the suspension of the eight MPAs.

After heated arguments, a few PTI MPAs and their staff entered the assembly premises by dancing to the tune of drums and showering rose petals on each other. They reached the media corner inside the building and started a celebration of sorts, wearing floral garlands.

"The government has suppressed our voice in the assembly. During the budget session, the PPP government did not give a chance to the opposition and parliamentary leaders of other parties to speak on the budget," said Firdous Shamim Naqvi of PTI.

At the time of protest, the assembly was in session. Agha Siraj Durrani, chairing the session, condemned the protest and ordered his security and police to prevent any untoward incident.

During the protest, some other PTI lawmakers, including women MPAs, reached the boundary wall gate and started beating the doors which were locked from side. They held a sit-in, while Haleem Adil and his other colleagues attempted to break the door to the entrance.

Slogans against the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party's leadership filled the air outside the building wall and the assembly lawn area.

Haleem Adil Sheikh lashed out at Durrani for banning the entry of MPAs into the assembly hall. He said it was an illegal move on the part of the speaker who suspended eight MPAs for carrying the funeral of the democracy to the house.

"One should know that our MPAs were forced into such a move to protest against not being allowed speak on the floor of the house during the budget session," he remarked. He alleged that speaker Durrani, after taking orders from the top PPP leadership, was committing an injustice with lawmakers of opposition parties.

The situation took a turn for the bizarre when Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) MPA Abdul Rashid jumped the wall and entered the assembly building from the parking area.

Read More: Sindh MPAs distraught over suspension

Initially, he reached and started protesting when seeing that the gates were locked. "This is not the way," he said. "The speaker has to run the house as per rules. He has locked the assembly gate to save his own house from protests," he added.

The MMA lawmaker said it was private members day and most of the agenda items belong to opposition MPAs. He repeatedly phoned assembly staffers to open the gate, but when nobody came to the rescue, the MMA lawmaker and most PTI MPAs jumped the walls.

After the protest, the PTI MPAs were disbursed. However, Shamim Naqvi announced his resignation. "No one is listening to opposition. There is no participation in standing or public accounts committees. Therefore, I am going to resign."

During the session, the GDA, another opposition party that has a coalition with PTI in the Centre, distanced itself from the protest.

"We can't accept this attitude in the house. They have breached the privilege granted to us all in a disgusting way," GDA MPA Nand Kumar said.

Agha Siraj Durrani condemned the protest and asked the Sindh government to implement strict security measures. He said the decision to suspend MPAs for the current session was genuine.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 30th, 2021.

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