If you ask Qaim Ali Shah what is his solution for any problem in Sindh, the chief minister will form a commission even before you finish your sentence.
Using the same logic, Shah has formed his fifth commission to deal with the crisis in the drought-hit region of Tharparkar. This two-member committee, comprising retired justices Ghulam Sarwar Korai and Arjun Ram K Talreja, will submit yet another report to the chief minister after probing into the causes of deaths and negligence on part of officers. The committee will also suggest the measures the government can take to prevent a similar crisis in the future.
Earlier, the government had formed a commission under the supervision of Justice (retd) Zahid Kurban Alavi who held the health department and the elected representatives of the districts responsible for the deaths in Thar. The findings of the reports revealed that the children were suffering from dysentery, skin infections, chronic malnutrition and their mothers were severely malnourished.
Alavi’s report criticised the provincial disaster management authority and called it a ‘white elephant’ for failing to deliver. “It should be winded up,” he had suggested.
Before Alavi’s, the CM had formed a committee headed by Hyderabad DIG Sanaullah Abbasi, who had also held the government departments responsible for the tragedy. This had prompted the provincial government to de-notify the committee and it had refused to accept its recommendations.
“We had not given this task to Abbasi,” the government had claimed. Abbasi had, however, insisted that he submitted the report based on ground realities. “It is government prerogative to accept it or not,” he said.
Meanwhile, former president Asif Ali Zardari formed yet another committee and gave Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader Manzoor Wasan the task to submit a report. Wasan also vehemently criticised the role of food, health and relief departments but no results were seen beyond this.
The unabated deaths in Thar compelled the lawmakers of Sindh Assembly to move a joint resolution on the Thar issue on November 11. It recommended the formation of parliamentary committee of the assembly to probe into the matter.
After a gap of a few days, speaker Agha Siraj Durrani constituted the committee of four members including Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) Ameer Hyder Shah, Pakistan Muslim League-Functional’s Saeem Nizamani, Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s Zafar Kamali and PPP’s Mahesh Malani.
The committee was supposed to visit the areas and submit a report during an assembly session but it was suddenly de-notified by Durrani it on November 25 on the recommendation of the Sindh government. “The government was afraid the opposition members in the committee could have exposed its real progress that is why it was abolished,” claimed PML-N’s Ameer.
For their part, information minister Sharjeel Memon insisted that the government always honours the recommendations of the committees. “We have appointed more than 70 doctors, restored almost all basic health centres and taluka hospitals have been equipped with the latest facilities,” he said. He clarified that Alavi’s commission had investigated last year’s drought and its consequences and the new commission will investigate the current situation.
The opposition is, however, not pleased. The government is trying to cover up its criminal negligence, opposition leader Shahayar Mahar told The Express Tribune. “The CM and his cabinet members are frustrated. Not a single recommendation made by any committee or commission has so far been implemented in Thar.”
Published in The Express Tribune, December 7th, 2014.