71 members quit City Council bodies -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

71 members quit City Council bodies

KARACHI, April 30: Sixty-eight opposition members on 33 house committees on Monday tendered their resignations en bloc in protest against what they described as ‘hooliganism by certain treasury members’ during Thursday’s session of the City Council. Three women members also tendered their resignations from their respective committees.

The resignations of the 68 committee members were submitted to the convener of the City Council, Nasreen Jalil, who is also naib nazim of the City District Government Karachi, by Leader of the Opposition Saeed Ghani of the Awam Dost Group and Rafiq Ahmed of the Al-Khidmat Group.

The convener advised the opposition leaders to exercise restraint and reconsider their decision.

Offering a personal apology over the unpleasant incident, in which Mr Ghani and several opposition members were subjected to manhandling during the house proceedings, she said the best way to sort out the matter was the holding of an inquiry into the whole affair by a house committee which could also recommend action against those involved. The house committee, she added, could comprise the council’s members from both the treasury and opposition benches.

A calm and composed convener maintained that she did not believe in violence and wanted to run the house in a congenial atmosphere. She said she was confident that the matter could be sorted out through dialogue.

On their part, the opposition leaders maintained that the demonstration of muscle power by certain treasury members was a pre-planned move aimed at intimidating the opposition benches. They made it clear to the convenor that they would not call off their protest unless the treasury members involved in hooliganism were taken to task.

Among the three women members who tendered their resignations from the house committees was Qaiser Butt, a PML-Q member and nazim of UC-7 Shershah. The other two women councillors were Najma Meenai and Kulsoom Sama.

Later, talking to newsmen, Ms Jalil said she would make an all-out effort to defuse tension and settle the row between the two sides amicably. She ruled out the possibility of the acceptance of the aggrieved members’ resignations.

Regarding action against those found involved in the manhandling of the councillors, she said every step would be taken in accordance with the relevant law for which opinion would be sought from the law department.

Ms Jalil also ruled out the possibility of a hitch coming in the way of the approval of city government’s budget.

In a house of 330 members, the treasury members have the strength of 255 members against the 75 members of the opposition.

Mr Saeed Ghani and Rafiq Ahmed, accompanied by many opposition members, held a press conference after the City Council session to explain the situation leading to their decision to withdraw from the house committees en bloc. Insisting that Thursday’s incident was a pre-planned move, they held the convenor of the house responsible for it.

They claimed that leaders of the Haq Parast Group Asif Siddiqui and Masood Mehmood had led a group of 20 to 25 treasury members who manhandled several opposition members, including women. They also named Abdul Jalil, saying that he led the attack on the opposition members.

The opposition leaders said that the convenor, Nasreen Jalil, was playing a biased role in the house, adding that she sided with the treasury benches in bulldozing every opposition-sponsored resolution.

Regarding the reported offer of suspending one of the treasury members for three sessions to settle the row, they said: “Mere suspension of a lone member, and that too for just three sessions, is not enough,” adding that the action would be nothing but a cosmetic move to let ‘all the culprits’ go scot-free.

“This is a very serious matter and lives of all opposition members are under threat. We cannot play our due role in the prevailing circumstances. Therefore, we will continue our protest until all those involved in the incident are suitably punished,” they declared.
Source: Dawn
Date:5/2/2007