No shelter to quake victims, no security to Fehmida
ISLAMABAD: The 18th Amendment was under fire in the House when the issue of providing security to former speaker Fehmida Mirza was raised. The members found out that after the amendment, the provinces were drifting out of the federation orbit, which is not a good omen. The discussion gave an impression that the 18th Amendment caused imbalance between the federation and its units.
Former speaker Fehmida Mirza criticised her own party, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and stunned the House by stating that her own and family members’ lives were under threat by the cronies of provincial government in Sindh. She also quoted 11 killings in Khairpur district during local government elections and demanded probe by some independent agency. She urged the federal government to provide security to her as the provincial government had failed to protect her and her family.
The chair asked Federal Minister Riaz Pirzada to convey to the interior ministry to provide security to Fehmida Mirza. But the minister was well aware that the federation had no such powers to intervene in the provincial matters after the 18th Amendment. He commented that people were suffering and “we are beating the drum of provincial autonomy”. Despite repeated observations from the chair for give some assurance to Ms Mirza, he did not make any commitment and put the ball back in the speaker’s court.
Deputy Speaker Javed Abbasi, in his ruling, directed the interior ministry to provide security to former custodian of the House. One wonders that if a federal minister avoids making any commitment over the issue at the floor of the House, how the chair’s ruling could solve the issue? Though anomalies and difference of opinion emerged after passage of the said amendment, it would be interesting if there is any move for its ‘review’.
On the condition of anonymity, hawks from the opposition and treasury admitted that some clauses of the 18th Amendment required revisit, but only after developing consensus among all stakeholders.
Fehmida also seemed disappointed the way her issue was taken. Though the issue of pre-poll rigging in the second phase of local government elections, raised by her, could be taken by her opponents as a political point scoring, yet the security of Fehmida Mirza and her family is a serious issue and it could not be ignored.
Opposition leader Khurshid Shah jolted the House by raising voice for the miserable condition of earthquake victims, who are living in the open in minus temperatures. He alleged that the federal and provincial governments were ignoring these people. He urged the governments to hold all development projects and divert funds for rehabilitation of the earthquake victims. He challenged the ruling elite to spend one night with these victims and they would come to know their miseries. No doubt the current condition of the earthquake victims is getting worse day by day and needs immediate attention. But the problem with our politicians is that they do not forget playing politics even while fighting for good cause. Shah’s voice would have been more affective if, by setting an example, he himself had visited these victims with some parliamentary delegation to divert federal and provincial governments’ attention to the situation.
Shahabuddin Khan, PML-N MNA from Bajaur Agency (NA-44), also raised the issue of earthquake victims, but his focus was on personal issues. He complained that he was ignored by Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa governor during prime minister’s visit to his area. He threatened to resign from the National Assembly on this ‘humiliation’ and in protest also staged a token walkout. He should have been appreciated if his focus had been on highlighting the people’s issue, instead of serving his own ego.
MNA from Chitral Shahzada Iftikharuddin was the only one who was satisfied with the federal government’s efforts for earthquake victims. However, he urged the prime minister to fulfil his commitments he made during his visit.
PML-N ally and Baloch leader Mahmood Khan Achakazi was much concerned about foreign policy. He was worried about ignoring parliament over foreign affairs and commented a lot of happening around Pakistan. He observed that frequent visits to US indicated that something was cooking up, but the Parliament was unaware. A few advisors are not capable of chalking out and running the foreign policy. The government’s response is awaited over his concerns.
The House formed a committee for restoration of demolished cabins in the federal capital but no such committee was suggested to avoid a possible human tragedy in earthquake-hit areas.
The deputy speaker, in his ruling, ordered restoring all cabins having valid lease. The question is, whether the Chair could issue such administrative orders?
Earlier, Tehmina Daultana also exchanged words with the Chair which were uncalled for on her part. She urged the Chair to give the floor to Fata MNA Shahabuddin.
Finally, Speaker Ayaz Sadiq, you are very much needed in the House.