KARACHI: It took 24 lives in the month of December alone for Sindh’s lawmakers to wake up and consider a ban on CNG kits and cylinders for public transport.
Calling them “a live bomb under a seat,” the MPAs decided on Wednesday to approach the federal government to crack down on workshops that illegally install substandard kits and cylinders in vehicles that otherwise run on petrol or diesel.
Everyone, including the Speaker, wanted the version of the transport minister, who instead of coming up with some plan railed against transporters and CNG workshop owners. Absolving himself of any responsibility, he claimed that he had no power to take action.
As the session started with Nisar Khuhro in chair, Pakistan Peoples Party MPA Ghulam Qadir Chandio referred to Tuesday’s CNG explosion in Khairpur that killed 13 people. Reminding the house that it was the prime responsibility of a government to provide its people security and safety, Chandio said frequent explosions in public transport vehicles have created fear among commuters.
As soon as Chandio had finished, other members stood up to share his concerns and to support him on his order.
Transport Minister Akhtar Jadoon said the conversion came directly under the control of the federal government and its authorities such as the Hydrocarbon Development Institute of Pakistan [HDIP] and Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority. He claimed that he had been fruitlessly writing to the HDIP, Ogra, and the National Highway Authority to look into the matter.
“It is an alarming situation. The CNG kits are installed on the roof and under the seats. Not only this, but two to three cylinders are installed in one vehicle,” he said. Expressing his inability to take any action, Jadoon said that his department has no authority to even look into the affairs of the driving licence branch and fitness certificates. “Around 0.3 million fake driving licences have been issued. I want to know how it has happened,” he disclosed.
After Jadoon finished, Nusrat Seher Abbasi of the PML-F, who had already submitted a resolution on the issue some days ago, stood up and told the Speaker that she wanted to move it.
The speaker said that they wanted to adopt the resolution but that the MPAs should decide whether this matter should be referred to the federal government. As Abbasi insisted on her resolution, the speaker asked the MPAs to discuss it and make amendments so that it could be adopted today (Thursday).
Zia and Bhutto
It came as a shock to most of the MPAs when Education Minister Pir Mazharul Haq revealed that General Zia-ul Haq has been portrayed as a better leader than Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in O’ Level textbooks being taught to students in Sindh’s private schools. This was stated in response to a question from minority MPA Saleem Khursheed Khokhar.
The minister said that some books, including the History and Culture of Pakistan (by Nigel Kelly), Pakistan, a historical and contemporary look (by Farooq Naseem Bajwa) and Pakistan history, culture and government (by Nigel Smith) are being taught in all Cambridge schools. He said the government has formed a committee of educationists to correct the facts. Their last meeting was held on April 16 and policy guidelines had been given to a committee to set the record straight by deleting ‘anti-democratic material’ including ‘notorious’ dictator General Zia.
He said that since the matter was under the domain of the Federal Bureau of Curriculum, they could not make any correction to it. “The education department has now been devolved to the provincial government. I hope you will not see these things in coming year,” he assured.
But the explanation did not satisfy Imdad Pitafi of the ruling party who reminded him that it was the PPP government at the federal and provincial levels for the last three and half years but they did not take up the matter earlier.
The issue of ghost schools and teachers also came up for discussion. The education minister produced a list of 350 teachers-turned-journalists and said that how education can flourish when some people belonging to the media had got schoolteachers jobs. “I have ordered to remove these people from service,” he said.
The Sindh Assembly passed a bill to amend Sindh Criminal Prosecution Service Act 2009. The law minister said that initially the prosecution wing was under the control of the law department, but it was given independent status during the Mushrraf government. “With this amendment all powers of the prosecutor will shift to the government (elected representatives),” he said.
Honour for Malala
This house unanimously passed a resolution recognizing the courage of Malala Yousafzai, a 14-year-old girl from Swat who has been nominated by government for the International Children’s Peace Prize 2011 for promoting education among girls in her area.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 22nd, 2011.