Where do we sit, asks opposition

The deputy speaker informed Mahar that she could not overrule decisions made by the speaker.

Tooba Masood September 26, 2014


Thirteen is an unlucky number but that doesn't scare Shaharyar Mahar. He told the deputy speaker that he may sit on seat number 13 if she fails to sort out the issue of oppositions seats, or face some serious rebellion.

"It's a tradition for the leader of the opposition to sit next to the leader of the treasury," he said. "Usually they are seated on the first two seats, but here, he sits there, and I sit near seat no. 12. Why don't you just sort this out madam deputy speaker?" He added that it would be acceptable to the opposition if all 19 members could sit in one place, as long as some decision was taken.

Shehla Raza, the deputy speaker, informed Mahar that she could not overrule decisions made by the speaker, Agha Siraj Durrani. "It just can't be done like this," she said dismissively. "You have to wait."

The finality in her voice told Mahar what she couldn't say out loud - drop it. Plus, if he didn't sit down, Sharjeel Memon and Mukesh Chawla looked like they were ready for a fight if Mahar persisted.

It looked like Nusrat Seher Abbasi wanted to challenge the deputy speaker to a shouting match, but decided against it after catching a sneak peak at Raza's poker face.

A grumpy Mahar decided to let the matter go for the moment and started preparing for what he would say later in the session when presenting an old motion on Tharparkar. After Mahar, the spotlight and mic turned on for Sharjeel Memon. The deputy speaker was being extremely selective about who could speak and when.

Memon, the minister for local government and informantion, gave a surprisingly long speech on several issues, including local government elections and telling Karachi's teens to say no to sheesha.

However, much later, journalists sitting in the press gallery realised that when the minister isn't busy shutting down sheesha joints or cleaning the city or talking about it with the media, he spends his time networking at the assembly.

Also spotted at the assembly with a bright-coloured pocket handkerchief was Nawab Muhammad Taimur Talpur, a PPP MPA. The young Talpur does attend sessions but doesn't say much.

He did, however, have time to go around the hall and chit chat with Memon, Khuhro and other MPAs from his party.

Unlike Thursday's session where the MQM was missing in action due to the Rangers raid and dharna outside CM House, several party members, including Sardar Ahmed showed up.

MQM MPAs remained, however, relatively quiet during the session till Memon responded to Kamran Akhtar's call-attention notice regarding local government elections.

The session had all the drama from day before but the sound system kept failing which ruined the theatrical effect the MPAs were counting on.

Dr Sikandar Mandhro kept getting up to explain to the House that since they were still in the process of finalising things in the new building, they would have to put up with some technical difficulties.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 27th, 2014.

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