KARACHI: In the mysterious absence of Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s provincial assembly members on Thursday, nine bills - out of which five were related to the revival of development authorities repealed in 2002 - were passed in the Sindh Assembly.
When contacted, all MQM members kept mum on their unannounced absence. “I will not speak on this matter,” said the party’s parliamentary leader Syed Sardar Ahmed. The same reaction came from MQM’s senior lawmaker, Aamir Moin Pirzada, who suggested contacting the opposition leader. Faisal Subzwari, however, did not respond.
“It would have been better if our friends [MQM] had given their valuable suggestions to make these laws more productive,” said Law Minister Dr Sikandar Mandhro. According to certain Pakistan Peoples Party’s members, MQM’s absence was part of an agreement with the government so that the laws could be passed without any uproar. “Following the release of former MQM MPA Nadeem Hashmi, an understanding has developed between PPP and MQM on some issues. This legislation was part of it,” said a PPP MPA while referring to the opposition party’s “friendly and calm” mood at Wednesday’s session.
Lyari Development Authority, Hyderabad Development Authority, Larkana Development Authority, Malir Development Authority and Sewan Development Authority are the five authorities which were revived through the supplementary order. The government, however, did not mention the Karachi Development Authority which at the moment is non-functional.
“These authorities were repealed by the unelected government without the political parties and public being taken into confidence which is why we are reviving the same by making amendment to this Act in order to provide shelter to people and initiate development schemes in the areas,” briefed the law minister on the objectives of the legislation.
According to the bills, the local government minister will be the chairperson of all the authorities and the members will include local government secretary, commissioner and chief engineer of the division. Local members of the provincial assembly will also be part of each development authority along with a technocrat and an activist of the civil society.
Sindh Building Control Law
The government also made amendments to the Building Control Authority Ordinance 1979, establishing a special court under Section 18-A to curb violation of the Sindh Building Control Law violation. “We will establish as many courts as necessary and appoint a judge for each court since the violations while constructing buildings are increasing day by day in Sindh,” said Dr Mandhro, adding that the judge can award three-year punishment and Rs50,000 fine.
Additionally, the Sindh Fund Management House Bill was also passed for efficient management of the investment of government’s funds and its entities in the province.
Outpouring of emotions
As soon as the minister for mines and mineral development, Manzoor Wasan, started leveling accusations against Pakistan Muslim League-Functional’s former minister, Imamuddin Shoqeen, the session heated up.
“I have referred the inquiry to the anti-corruption department - one million acres of government land, worth billions of rupees, were given by Shoqeen at Rs2 per feet on lease. These people have set a record for corruption,” he claimed.
An apparently emotional Nusrat Seher Abbasi of the PML-F defended her party by bringing up her own set of accusations against the PPP’s ministers, saying, “I will also bring proof of how PPP’s ministers had bungled billions of rupees in their respective departments.”
Amid chants of “shame shame” by the PPP’s MPAs, deputy speaker of the assembly, Shehla Raza, asked Abbasi to “sit down and stop making noise.”
When Abbasi pointed out that she had the right to express her views being a member of the House, Raza retorted, “I will not allow you to violate the rules and please stop dictating me. I am the custodian of this House and have to maintain decorum.”
Abbasi, however, continued her speech because of which the irked speaker asked her to leave the session. Members of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and PML-F also walked out of the session in support of Abbasi.
Soon after, senior ministers Nisar Khuhro, Sharjeel Memon and others requested the deputy speaker to take back her ruling - Raza initially did not agree but later allowed the PML-F member to come back to the session.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 20th, 2013.
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