KARACHI: The Sindh Assembly probably saw the last hullaballoo of its five-year term on Saturday when Deputy Speaker Shehla Raza ordered a female member of the opposition to leave the house for showing the chair her shoe.
Later, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle conceded it was one of the saddest days of the assembly’s history.
On the sixth day of the budget debate, commotion began to unfold when Population Welfare Minister Mumtaz Jakhrani after criticising other opposition parties took on the Pakistan Muslim League-Functional. He was confronted by the PML-F’s Nusrat Abbasi.
Mr Jakhrani said the PML-F had been in almost all past governments and was still a part of the federal government, yet, it had done nothing for its people.
The chair orders Nusrat Abbasi to leave the house; MQM’s Faisal Subzwari says people can demand a new province if situation persists
Ms Abbasi began countering him loudly though her mike was turned off. Altercation between the two began when the minister said she had the habit to play to the gallery. He also asked the PML-F leadership and lawmakers that they should be “ashamed” of what they had done to their people.
After the conclusion of Mr Jakhrani’s speech, Leader of the Opposition Khwaja Izharul Hasan asked the chair, Deputy Speaker Raza, to expunge the words ‘sharm aur haya’ as it was indecent to speak like that to a female lawmaker.
The chair said she had already got those words expunged, which could not be heard by everyone else because of the noise Ms Abbasi had made.
While the issue was under discussion, Ms Abbasi put her feet on the desk displaying one of her shoes to the chair. This enraged Ms Raza, who initially warned her and then ordered her to leave the house for the day’s session.
“I would call in sergeant-at-arms to maintain decorum of the house,” she warned.
She added that she would request Ms Abbasi’s party to not consider her as its candidate next time. “Nusrat Abbasi has breached the decorum, thus, she would remain out of the assembly for the day.”
She said she would not allow anyone to play the “woman card” in the house as the assembly had had enough of that card.
The incident also infuriated the treasury members as some women members first loudly spoke and then one of them went to the opposition benches and would have engaged almost in a fight with the opposition lawmakers when Khwaja Izhar and other members rushed and pacified the lawmakers.
Ms Raza wondered that in the same house Faryal Talpur, sister of PPP leader Asif Zardari, was targeted in a worst possible manner “then no one from the opposition benches was bothered about the honour of a woman”.
She asked the women on the treasury benches to respond to the opposition’s female lawmakers as showing shoe was not a mistake, “it is a crime”.
Khwaja Izhar said both sides of the house had agreed in principle that no one would attack anyone’s leadership. He said he condemned such things if the opposition was involved in it.
Ms Raza said that in an earlier incident the same opposition lawmaker had misbehaved with her, yet, it shot her to “international fame”, and “today’s incident will shoot Nusrat Abbasi as well to fame for all the wrong reasons”.
After the chair’s order, Ms Abbasi remained seated in the house for some time and later left on her own for the day’s sitting.
Later, the PML-F parliamentary party leader Nand Kumar expressed his regret over the incident.
Discussion on Sindh’s budget continues
Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s parliamentary party leader Syed Sardar Ahmed asked the government to encourage participatory democracy in which the government should get the opposition involved while making the annual budget.
He said no money had been kept on poverty alleviation in the rural areas and impoverished urban populations.
He said all government departments were smeared with corruption, which was making Sindh poorer.
He demanded the government to earmark land for graveyards and cremation places for Hindus.
PML-Nawaz’s Ameer Sheerazi asked why the government had allocated Rs100 million for a new city project, Zulfikarabad, which he said had been rejected by the people Thatta and Sujawal districts.
He said sea intrusion had eaten away eight union councils of Keti Bandar taluka and six UCs of Shah Bandar taluka.
Public Health Engineering Minister Fayaz Butt said many schemes relating to solar energy had been completed and others were being completed.
He criticised the federal government for denying Sindh its legitimate share in water.
Minister Jakhrani said PPP’s recent “successful” rally in Liaquatabad clearly showed Karachi had got freedom from “decades-old slavery”.
Minister defends GM Syed’s statue at SU
Culture Minister Sardar Shah said cultural narrative was the only tool to counter the present age of extremism. He spoke over various activities his department carried out and expressed his amusement over a lawmaker’s statement who claimed kites worth Rs105m had been flown in the air.
He dismissed the claim that PPP had pushed Urdu-speaking people to the wall and asked the chair: “Who is sitting in front of me?”
He also denied the accusation of an MQM lawmaker saying how can PPP kill Urdu-speaking people in small towns of Sindh when Sufi saint Sachal had written poetry in Urdu much earlier than Mirza Ghalib.
He defended a statue of G.M. Syed placed in Sindh University, saying the late politician was a mover of the resolution for Pakistan in the Sindh Assembly before he became a Sindhi nationalist. “As we cannot remove his name from the assembly’s records, we cannot remove his statue from Sindh University.”
He said for the past 5,000 years, everyone who settled in Sindh had become part of it. “We have been peaceful people and it is evident from the fact that not a single weapon has been discovered from Moenjodaro.”
Planning and Development Minister Saeed Ghani refuted the claims that Rs90bn had been squandered in the name of developing Larkana. He said a total of Rs28.3bn had been allocated for Larkana and Shahdadkot districts during the PPP’s tenure.
He said Rs70bn had been spent on development of Thar alone.
He said Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf had politicised even the work of constructing toilets in girls’ schools.
He said the MQM had been in power as major partners with other smaller parties in the past, then why it had not insisted to install its own chief minister.
Education Minister Jam Mehtab Dahar said thousands of schools had been built by the previous governments only to offer ‘autaqs’ to their favourites.
He said just 167 schools were viable in five districts out of 987 built by previous governments.
He said 58 schools were in a small village of Thar, while another was stuffed with 23 schools.
Govt slammed for not constituting PFC
MQM’s Faisal Subzwari said the government was “biased and dishonest” as it had denied rights and development for both the cities and villages of Sindh. “You have got Rs1,500 billion during your 10 years in power in Sindh, and see what you have done with the province.”
He said just 20 per cent funds had been spent on education and 15pc on health sector during the past 10 months of this fiscal.
He said the government had failed to set up the provincial finance commission (PFC) and denied the cities and districts of their rightful shares. “Karachi generates 90 per cent of Sindh’s revenue and you spend just 10pc on it.”
He said former home minister and disgruntled PPP leader Dr Zulfikar Mirza was “a facilitator of gangster Uzair Baloch”.
Mr Subzwari said the MQM too had made mistakes and was trying to correct them and other parties should also do the same.
He said if the situation remained the same then people could demand a new administrative unit.
“Establishing provinces is a possibility and no one who demands for a new province should be called a traitor,” he said.
Ministers Jam Khan Shoro, Nasir Shah and Imdad Pitafi and PML-F’s Nand Kumar also spoke.
Published in Dawn, May 20th, 2018