MQM stages walkout from PA over AJK polls
By Habib Khan Ghori
KARACHI: The postponement of Azad Kashmir election in Karachi for two seats – LA 30 and 36 – sent a wave of anger among Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) members in the Sindh Assembly on Saturday who protested the move and staged a walkout from the house and then boycotted the rest of the proceedings.
The house reassembled at 10:55am, a day after passing the provincial budget-2011-12, with Speaker Nisar Ahmed Khuhro in the chair.
Before the chair could announce taking up of the house business, Faisal Sabzwari of the MQM drew the attention of the house to the postponement of the election – scheduled for Sunday – on LA-30 (Jammu-I) and LA-36 (Kashmir Valley-I). He noted that the polling in Karachi had been put off on the basis of the Sindh police chief’s report on law and order.
He argued that it was only on Friday that Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah while winding up a general discussion on the budget had described the overall law and order across the province as “far better than it had remained in the past” but the provincial chief’s report sent to the AJK election commission negated the chief minister’s claim.
Mr Sabzwari, the MQM deputy parliamentary party leader, questioned the independent status of the AJK election commission and reminded the authorities concerned that the provincial police was answerable to the government.
He told the house that Federal Interior Minister Rehman Malik who flew into Karachi on Friday and was approached by some leaders of the Pakistan People’s Party with a request to get an MQM candidate retired from one the seats in favour of the PPP candidate. He noted that the very next day the commission postponed the election on both the seats.
“On whose behest the Sindh police chief recommended postponement of the election?” he asked.
After recording his party’s protest, Mr Sabzwari along with his party colleagues staged a walkout from the assembly. Some PPP lawmakers tried to bring them back though in vain.
(Sources in the AJK election commission said the election on Karachi seats had been postponed owing to a law and order situation in that city and on LA-41 (Kashmir Valley-6) due to some litigation. Meanwhile, the Muzaffarabad High Court on Saturday also ordered postponement of the elections in the three constituencies, APP adds.)
Irrigation issues taken up
Later, the schedule of authorised expenditure for the year 2011-12 was laid before the house and two bills were introduced. The bills were “The University of Sufism and Modern Sciences at Bhitshah Bill, 2011” and “The Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Dewan University Bill, 2011”.
After the questions hour, over half a dozen lawmakers spoke on the need for clearing silt from the entire irrigation network and carrying out of dredging at the openings of the right bank and left bank canals of the Indus.
They were of the view that the problem of water shortage was no more of the tail-end growers alone but the situation was equally disturbing for all growers despite availability of adequate irrigation water in the Sukkur barrage.
The chair informed the house that President Asif Ali Zardari had directed the irrigation minister to sort out the problem and arranging for dredging with KPT equipment.
He said that senior officials of the irrigation department would give a briefing in this regard to the lawmakers concerned on Wednesday. Ali Nawaz Chandio, Sassui Palejo and Sardar Ahmed Ali Pitafi were among the members who spoke on the issue.
Senior Minister Pir Mazharul Haq made statement under Rule 215 regarding a newspaper report claiming that out of 49,000 primary schools in Sindh only 7,000 were functional. On his suggestion, the chair directed the standing committee on education to ascertain the facts about all functional and nonfunctional schools and submit its report in the next session.
The house also unanimously passed a resolution tabled by Nadeem Bhutto against some remarks passed recently by Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah. He called for disciplinary action against the minister for declaring Senator Babar Awan liable to be killed.The resolution said: “This august house demands of the government of Punjab that Rana Sanaullah should immediately be removed from his office, and disciplinary action should be taken against him. And if any incident occurred with Dr Babar Awan, Rana Sanaullah and the government of Punjab will be responsible and accountable for that act.”
Imdad Ali Pitafi, Shazia Marri, Shehla Raza and Rafique Engineer spoke in support of the resolution before it was adopted by the house.
After completion of the day’s deliberations at 1:30pm, Speaker Khuhro read out the governor’s order proroguing the session sine die.