“She buys lawn suits with her MPA salary!” shrieked Shazia Marri, Sindh’s information minister as she hit back at her old foe – Pakistan Muslim League-Functional (PML-F) MPA Marvi Rashdi, who is on a warpath of sorts with the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).
Rashdi’s fight with Marri last month is the stuff legends are made of. However, on Friday she managed to offend even more PPP frontbenchers.
It wasn’t a rare feat to get them going. After all, the front-row legislators are a tad bit sensitive to criticism since their job is to defend the government. But Rashdi’s fights seem to bring out the worst in everyone.
The Sindh Assembly may have been in business since 1942, when it was inaugurated by Sindh Governor Sir Hugh Dow, but for all intents and purposes it may still be stuck in the 1940s since stereotypes about women continue to linger in its hallowed halls. I quite expect that one of these days they’ll just stick up one of those “Natives, Dogs and Women Not Allowed” signs and end the pretence altogether.
While Rashdi and Marri traded insults over make-up, again, Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ayaz Soomro brushed Rashdi off by saying that she would create a fuss and walk out in her heels. He was kind enough to punctuate his point by telling us that her heels went ‘tik tik tik tik’.
To give credit to Marri though, she didn’t just focus on the superficial. She also highlighted how Rashdi made her way to the assembly. “She isn’t a political party worker. She’s here because of her family connections with the PML-F,” she told reporters outside the assembly as they hung on her every word, having lost any hope that the proceedings themselves would produce any worthy news.
The day was so dreary that even Soomro looked like he was daydreaming between answering questions about the jails department. Others too, seemed rather occupied. While Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah dealt with MPA after MPA and their written requests, Nadir Magsi had an uncontrollable fit of laughter right in the middle of the session and the merry gang of MPAs led by Sharjeel Inam Memon were trying to play that wonderful game of ‘who gets charged with contempt first’.
Perhaps it beats the game of Chinese whispers being played in the Sindh Assembly every day by the reporters. It usually starts off as a rumour but after an hour has gone by, the reporters are willing to stake their lives on the news they have managed to glean from a chatty legislator or two.
Friday’s rumour was that the government would be presenting a resolution in support of the prime minister. On Thursday, political parties had reportedly been asked by the PPP to paint themselves as allies of Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani by passing these resolutions in the National Assembly and the provincial assembly.
Yet there was no draft that came up in the Sindh Assembly on Friday, and a fairly good answer to why is that the PPP’s main partner in Sindh – the Muttahida Qaumi Movement – has kept up an almost eerie silence since the prime minister served his 37-second sentence. Perhaps the savvy folk at the PPP realise that it would be rather embarrassing to present a resolution while they have no clue how their brothers-in-arms will react.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 28th, 2012.