KARACHI: The Sindh Assembly adopted a unanimous resolution on Wednesday requesting the federal government to arrest those behind the targeted attacks against Hazaras in Quetta.
The joint resolution was moved by Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) deputy parliamentary leader Faisal Subzwari, Pakistan Peoples Party’s (PPP) Mujadid Isran and Pakistan Muslim League - Functional’s (PML-F) Marvi Rashdi. Not only did they condemn the barbaric incident, but some MPAs also demanded the city be put under the control of the armed forces. The session started after 11am with Speaker Nisar Ahmed Khuhro in chair.
“Why are you opposing army deployment and have made it an issue of your self esteem,” asked PML-F’s Jam Madad Ali. “The civilian government has lost its writ in the province so the armed forced should be deployed until the situation gets better.”
The deputy speaker, Shehla Raza, who belongs to the PPP, claimed that the Hazara leaders have not demanded army deployment, but have only asked for a targeted operation against the culprits. According to her, the Shia massacre in Pakistan began after 1985 when the Russian presence in Afghanistan ended. Organisations, such as Lashkar-e-Jhangvi are being patronised by the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban and they are carrying out these attacks, she said. “We need to take steps to remove the safe havens of these militants-cum-terrorists like Iran and Sri Lanka have done.”
PML-Q’s Nuzhat Pathan pointed that nothing tangible will come out of the suspension of a few officials. “Why does the government always make promises after the massacre of innocent people?” She believed that there is no harm in deploying the armed forced temporarily.
Rashdi agreed that the situation will worsen if a decision on army deployment is not taken on time. PPP’s Imdad Pitafi criticised, however, the role of intelligence agencies and the armed forces for taking up most of the budget but failing to protect the lives of people. “It is the prime responsibility of intelligence agencies to avert such incidents, but they are doing nothing.”
According to Subzwari, sectarian killings began in the name of religion but Shias, Sunnis, Hindus, Christians and others are all being targeted. “More than 50,000 people have lost their lives in Pakistan. This is high time our religious scholars tell people about the true spirit of religion instead of spreading hate among different groups to ensue violence.”
Subzwari suggested getting inspiration from the Quaid, who appointed ministers who were Ahmedis and Hindus. “We should use him as a role model to promote harmony and work against extremism,” he added.
Nevertheless, law minister Ayaz Soomro insisted that the army was not needed and that the civilian government can manage the situation.
The assembly witnesses an uproar when National People Party’s Arif Mustafa Jatoi pointed out that the chief minister made claims that he did not fulfil. Qaim Ali Shah had announced that development funds for MPAs will be raised from Rs60 million to Rs80 million but the decision has yet to be implemented by the finance department, he claimed. Several lawmakers agreed with his claims since the house echoed with shouts of “shame shame”.
The finance minister, Murad Ali Shah, explained that the matter falls under the domain of the planning department. But Jatoi was not satisfied with this response. “Why does he make sweet promises if he is not capable of fulfilling them?” he asked.
These comments angered the PPP ministers who retorted with personal remarks. Ayaz Soomro accused Jatoi of being drunk, but after speaker intervened he ended up clarifying that he meant to ask if Jatoi had drunk hot or cold water in the morning.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 21st, 2013.
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