Fireworks in PA as PPP, Muttahida lock horns over division of Sindh

Source: Published in Politics on Tuesday, June 21, 2016

KARACHI: The burning issue of creating more provinces once again echoed in the Sindh Assembly on Monday when lawmakers from the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party declared that no one could divide Sindh and opposition Muttahida Qaumi Movement members insisted that creation of more administrative units, including a Mohajir province, was the only solution to all governance related problems.

Monday was the fifth day of a general discussion on Sindh budget for financial year 2016-17 in which 22 legislators from both sides of the aisle took part.

However, some six lawmakers from both treasury and opposition benches used the sitting for a political point scoring as they delivered emotional speeches, which had nothing to do with the ongoing budget discussion.

The highlight of the day was the speeches of PPP’s Imdad Ali Pitafi and MQM’s Mehfoozyar Khan during which it was difficult for the chair to maintain discipline in the house as charged lawmakers of the two parties stood from their benches to oppose their opponent’s viewpoint.

It all started with the speech of PPP’s Khairunnisa Mughal, who spoke against the so-called sense of deprivation among Urdu-speaking people. She said that it was Sindh which welcomed the Mohajirs with open heart when they migrated to Pakistan after partition. She said before talking about sense of deprivation the Urdu-speaking community should go to other provinces and see by themselves the situation of those who migrated from India.

Then Sajid Jokhio of the same party declared that no “honourable” son of Sindh would tolerate the division of the province.

While other lawmakers spoke about the budget and other issues, the house witnessed pandemonium during the speech of MQM’s Mehfoozyar Khan, who insisted that there should be 22 administrative units, including a Mohajir province, in the country.

During his speech PPP lawmakers continued their protest.

In response to Mr Khan’s speech, when the floor was given to PPP’s Imdad Pitafi, he termed him a ‘turncoat’ and declared that it was not possible that someone spoke about the division of Sindh and “we keep on listening him”.

He said that the MQM talked about Mohajir when it was in opposition.

He said that it was Pak Sarzameen Party’s Mustafa Kamal who was calling MQM people as “RAW agents”. “Why are you venting his [Mustafa Kamal] anger on Sindh?”

A charged Pitafi warned the MQM lawmakers that their eyes would open when PPP members came to house with headbands inscribed with “No RAW Agent No”.

During his speech, MQM lawmakers stood on their seats and lodged a protest against him.

However, situation remained under control as no senior lawmaker from both treasury or opposition benches participated in the protest.

PPP’s Nasir Hussain Shah said that the issue of division of Sindh was a very sensitive issue and urged the chair to ban any discussion on it in the assembly.

Opposition stages walkout

The house, which was called to order at 11.35am, also witnessed another protest by the joint opposition led by Khawaja Izhar when Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani refused to accept their demand to allow camera of private TV channels in the assembly premises.

The opposition leader drew the attention of the chair towards a protest by representative of the electronic media over a ban on bringing television cameras in the house. The speaker said that there would be no compromise on the security of the assembly. He said that security had no link with democracy and if anyone liked to talk to the media he could go to the press club.

The parliamentary party leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-Functional, Nand Kumar, tried to speak on the subject but he was not allowed. He walked out from the house in protest.

When PML-N parliamentary party leader Ismail Rahu was given the floor, he said that access to information was a fundamental right.

However, the speaker did not budge and said that at present the ban to bring cameras in the assembly was temporary but it would become permanent if people wanted. He made it clear that he would not take dictation from anyone.

Khawaja Izhar wanted to say something, but the speaker interrupted him and said: “Don’t try to put your words in my mouth. If I agree to your point of view, it is democracy otherwise it is not.”

The combined opposition staged a walkout as an expression of solidarity with the media at 12.18pm and returned after around 25 minutes.

During the six-hour-long sitting, only a few lawmakers, including Mir Hazar Khan Bijarani, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s Samar Ali Khan, PML-N’s Ismail Rahu, PPP’s Shehla Raza, MQM’s Dilawar Qureshi spoke on the budget issues with facts and figures.

Other lawmakers who spoke today were Rubina Qaimkhani, Ali Mardan Shah, Ziaul Hasan Lanjar, Sanjeela Leghari, Syed Ghulam Shah Jeelani and Faqirdad Khoso of the PPP, Sabir Hussain Qaimkhani, Syed Qamar Abbas, Syed Waqar Shah, Saifuddin Khalid of the MQM and Waryam Faqeer and Imtiaz Shaikh of PML-F.

The chair adjourned the sitting at 5.30 pm for Wednesday.