KARACHI: Three days after reportedly issuing show-cause notices to Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Sindh chairperson Qaim Ali Shah and provincial deputy general secretary Manzoor Wassan for mishandling the Thar crises, the party’s chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari withdrew the notices, ultimately blaming the media of false reporting.
A spokesperson at Bilawal House, justifying the chairperson’s decision, said: “The media ran a false report, which is why the show-cause notices have been withdrawn. An intra-party inquiry is being conducted under the supervision of the chairperson and action will be taken after it is completed.”
The spokesperson went on to say: “Everyone has the right to defend himself and those elected on the PPP ticket are held to a higher standard because we are Bhutto.”
Earlier, when the media had highlighted an inquiry report prepared by the anti-corruption minister, Manzoor Wassan, the party’s chairperson had jumped into action and issued a statement of serving show-cause notices to Shah and Wassan. Bilawal had sought a written reply from both the officials, explaining the government’s failure in Thar.
Party sources, however, told The Express Tribune that the act of serving show-cause notices was merely a political stunt, as neither Shah nor Wassan had been served any notice. “I have only heard through the media about the show-cause notice issued to me. I have not yet received it,” Manzoor Wasan had told the media, a few hours before Bilawal Bhutto withdrew his decision. Meanwhile, PPP Sindh information secretary Waqar Mehdi also denied that any notice was served to the CM.
Reports in the media, quoting Wassan’s inquiry report, had highlight the provincial government’s failure in dealing with the drought in Thar, which reportedly claimed 470 lives in the last three years. The inquiry report blamed the health, livestock and food departments, the provincial disaster management authority, relief commissioner and the finance department for the crisis. It also exposed government officials and minister who had embezzled the funds meant to provide relief to the residents. The report even criticised the chief minister for not living up to his pledge to appoint doctors and provide medical facilities in the calamity-hit district.
PPP rejects Manzoor Wassan’s report
The recent developments compelled PPP leaders, including Senator Taj Haider, food minister Jam Mahtab Dahar, livestock minister Jam Khan Shoro and minister for relief Makhdoom Jameelul Zaman to hold a press conference on Saturday.
Taj Haider addressing the media on Saturday. PHOTO: NNI
Addressing the media at the PPP Media Cell, Taj Haider said “We reject the media reports pertaining to Wasan’s investigation and findings. He has neither submitted the report nor does his report contain what the media has reported,” he said, adding that there was a major communication gap between media and Sindh government that has triggered the ‘hype’ on the Thar situation.
Taj Haider was of the view that the Sindh government had been making efforts to deal with the Thar situation. “Thar has been facing the same situation for the last many years but those who had the health portfolio for 20 years completely ignored it and never even bothered to visit the area,” he said. “The chief minister has paid more than 10 visits in the last seven months and convened 15 meetings on this issue.”
Haider, who is also incharge of the relief programme in Tharparkar, said that 916 reverse osmosis plants were being setup in the area to resolve the issue of potable water.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 9th, 2014.