PPP ‘hawks’ stay away from session Muttahida ends PA boycott
By Habib Khan Ghori
KARACHI: With some key ministers of the ruling Pakistan People`s Party absenting themselves from the session of the Sindh Assembly, lawmakers belonging to the Muttahida Qaumi Movement ended their boycott and returned to the house on Wednesday.
Incensed at a statement of Home Minister Dr Zulfikar Mirza in which he had declared the People`s Amn Committee a sister organisation of the PPP, the MQM had announced on March 7 an indefinite boycott of Sindh Assembly proceedings.
However, following the intervention of President Asif Ali Zardari, who held talks with MQM chief Altaf Hussain over the phone, the MQM announced late Tuesday night that it would end its boycott of the Sindh Assembly session.
Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah, Home Minister Dr Mirza, Works and Services Minister Manzoor Wasan, Local Government Minister Agha Siraj Durrani and Law Minister Ayaz Soomro were not present when the MQM lawmakers returned to the house.
While Finance Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah of the PPP was present in the house, the absence of other key leaders fuelled speculation that the relationship between the two parties is far from normal.
However, in a bid to cover up their uneasy relationship, a joint resolution was moved by Pir Syed Muhammad Bachal Shah and Saleem Khurshid Khokhar of the PPP and Aleem-ur-Rehman, Tahir Qureshi, Heer Ismail Soho, Muhammad Shoaib Ibrahim and Muzammil Qureshi of the MQM.
The resolution, which was carried unanimously after half-a-dozen speeches, congratulated President Zardari and the MQM chief for their courage and great struggle to unite the people of Sindh.
Speaking in support of the resolution, Bachal Shah said: “Today is an important day in the history of Sindh as President Zardari and Altaf Bhai have overcome distances between two brothers. Sindh is the land of Urdu- and Sindhi-speaking people, as we all are Sindhis and if we remain united no body could harm Sindh.”
Jam Tamachi Unnar said that the MQM, like the PPP, was a political reality having majority in cities. There was a need to work out some formula so that differences among them should not recur. Ms Soho said that the enemies did not like to see Sindh progress and the PPP and the MQM go along.
Mr Khokhar said this resolution was a declaration against those forces which were conspiring against democracy.
Muhammad Anwar Khan Mahar said that when Pakistan came into existence Sindhis had welcomed Urdu-speaking brothers with an open heart “because of our love for each other and that was why today all Sindhis speak Urdu”.
He advised the Urdu-speaking people to learn and speak Sindhi which would promote and strengthen mutual ties, as they had to live and die together in Sindh.
MQM Parliamentary Party leader Syed Sardar Ahmad said that the MQM chief had always said that Sindh was the land of the PPP and Muttahida and “we would go along and work together for the prosperity of Sindh”.
Earlier, welcoming the MQM lawmakers for ending their boycott, Finance Minister Shah said that their return augured well for all the people of the province.
Shaikh Afzal of the MQM said that the vision of the PPP and MQM leadership ought to reach the lowest level, which would pave the way for a better understanding of each other.
Speaker Nisar Ahmad Khuhro highlighted the importance of the house and said that when the MPAs sat in the assembly they translated the voices and aspirations of the people into legislation.
The speaker, who called the house in order at 10.40am, took some points of order before taking up the question hour in accordance with the order of the day.
Responding to the point of order of Nusrat Sehar Abbasi about a baton charge on college teachers, Education Minister Pir Mazhar-ul-Haq said that the government not only restored their union but also accepted their all demands and had accorded due promotions. However, there were some people in their ranks who instead of paying attention to teaching were keen to teach students in private tuition centres.
The minister appealed to the people to keep education away from politics.
He warned the protesting teachers that if they continued their blackmailing and were found absent from work, not only their salary would be deducted but, if necessary, such teachers would be replaced with ad hoc lecturers.
Ghulam Qadir Chandio raised the issue of killing of seven prisoners in the Hyderabad Central Prison and demanded an inquiry and action against officials involved in smuggling of cellphones, weapons, etc.
Sadiq Memon drew attention towards the flood-affected families in Thatta, where over 22,000 families were still awaiting the Watan Cards and they were informed by officials that the Watan Card scheme was no more valid.
Rehabilitation Minister Muzaffar Ali Shujra denied the report and said there was no ban on Watan Cards, which would remain valid until there was left a single flood-affected family.
Responding to Ms Soho`s point of order the chair informed the house that the home census would begin on April 5.
After adoption of the resolution, the chair adjourned the session till Thursday at 10am.