All in a day’s work: Barbs fly at Sindh Assembly

MPAs debate whether jeans are part of Sindh’s culture.


Hafeez Tunio December 16, 2011

KARACHI:


The Sindh Assembly session ended in a dramatic fashion when MPA Saleem Khokhar asked the Punjab government to take action against a shoe manufacturer and retailer in Lahore for depicting the ‘cross’ on its merchandise.


Khokhar, an MPA from the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), said this had hurt religious sentiment as the cross was sacred for Christians.

“Christian villages are set on fire,” he said. “People are burnt alive for blasphemy but no action is taken against people who make derogatory remarks against Jesus Christ.” He added that minorities in Pakistan were victimised and he wanted to move a resolution on the shoe manufacturer in Lahore’s Anarkali Bazaar.

Sindh Assembly Speaker Nisar Ahmed Khuhro asked him to table the resolution on Monday.

Sindhi culture vs jeans

Culture Minister Sassui Palijo exchanged barbs with Pakistan Muslim League-Functional MPA Nusrat Sahar Abbasi over the issue of women wearing jeans on Sindh Culture Day. According to Abbasi, wearing jeans and dancing on the streets was not the way to represent or celebrate Sindhi culture.

Palijo hit back - telling Abbasi that no one could place a restriction on women or ask them to stop wearing jeans. “They are free to think and wear whatever they want,” she said. “We are not living in the stone age.” She also noted that Abbasi, as a female MPA on a reserved seat, should not make comments like this. Abbasi asked Palijo why the event was celebrated by the government and the people on two separate dates. Palijo said no date had been fixed for the event but it was normally celebrated in early December.

The assembly speaker had to intervene and said that the culture day was meant to celebrate Sindhi culture - not to target people.

Privilege motion

PPP MPA Pitanbar Sewani said that he had approached the Hyderabad intermediate education board to verify his name in accordance with the gazette notification. He said the election commission had issued him notices to verify his degree.

“I have to present myself before the election commission on December 26,” he said. “Despite repeated requests the board officials are not cooperating. Their attitude violates the privilege of a public representative of this assembly.” Khuhro said there was no privilege committee so the case would have to be referred to a special committee, noting that the assembly has not had this committee for the last four years.

Law Minister Ayaz Soomro said that some members of the house were not willing to attend the meeting to elect the privilege committee chairman. PML-F MPA Marvi Rashdi said that PPP members and ministers were deliberately avoiding the election because they did not want her to be the chairperson. Khuhro asked Soomro to discuss the issue in a meeting on Wednesday.

A three-member special committee comprising PML-F MPA Rana Abdul Sattar, PPP’s Dr Sikandar Mandhro and MQM’s Muzammil Qureshi was made to dispose of Sewani’s privilege motion.

Education

MPA Razzaque Rahimoon claimed that the University of Karachi had restricted the admission of students from rural Sindh. Abbasi said that the government had announced that it would restore the jobs of teachers but nothing had been done so far. Haq told Rahimoon he would look into the matter and assured Abbasi that a summary was sent to Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah.

Close watch

Home Minister Manzoor Wassan said that he had ordered the police to monitor the activities at seminaries in the province. He said that he had met with different religious scholars to discuss the issue.

Preparing for floods

The Sindh Irrigation (Amendment) Ordinance 2011 was laid down, which authorises the government to forcefully evacuate encroached land on or near natural or artificial depression courses meant for flood or rainwater.

The session was adjourned till Monday.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 17th, 2011.

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