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May 17, 2018

Opposition irked by ministers’ absence from budget debate


May 17, 2018

Opposition lawmakers in the Sindh Assembly protested against the absence of ministers and MPAs from the treasury benches during the ongoing budget debate on Wednesday, and walked out of the assembly hall, chanting slogans against the government.

However, they returned shortly afterwards to resume criticism of the government. During the debate on the fiscal budget 2018-2019 for the third consecutive day, opposition MPAs strongly criticised the government for not listening to their criticism, suggestions and recommendations, saying they were busy in a futile exercise by discussing various aspects of the budget as neither the chief minister and provincial ministers nor MPAs from the treasury benches were present in the house to listen to the opposition.

Pakistan Muslim League-Functional (PML-F) MPA Shaharyar Khan Mahar pointed out the absence of ministers and MPAs of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), as in the house of 166 lawmakers, only 35 were present when the session resumed.

Other opposition MPAs joined Mahar in the protest, chanted slogans against the government and also led the opposition out of the assembly hall briefly. Remarks of Sindh Assembly Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani further infuriated the opposition when he said it was not a vegetable market and asked them not “to yell like vendors” in the house.

Speaking on the budget, Shaharyar Mahar of the PML-F criticised the PPP government for its claims that it had restored peace in Lyari, saying that from 2008 to 2013, the PPP supported terrorists and gangsters in Lyari and ruined the lives of Lyariites.

“You people passed a resolution against the Rangers while the Rangers and the federal government brought peace to Karachi. Your favourite IGP fled from the court who sold jobs for seven lakhs,” he charged and added that the people of Sindh were no more supporters of Bhutto as the name of Bhutto was used to plunder wealth and resources of the province by the PPP.

Irum Azeem Farooqui of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement also criticised the PPP-led provincial government, saying it only brought 10 busses in 10 years to the streets of Karachi. She asked the PPP to introduce “clean people” in the legislature instead of making tall claims of cleaning the province.

She observed that she wanted to serve the people by becoming a member of the assembly, but she realised very soon that nothing could be done as “mafias” were in power and controlling the assemblies.

Farooqui also announced that this was her last speech as she would not come to the assembly anymore. PPP MPA Syd Owais Qadir Shah came down hard on former premier Mian Nawaz Sharif and charged that Sharif was heading towards a situation whereby a collision could occur between state institutions.

“Nawaz Sharif is now speaking against the disciplined institute and against those who are defenders of our borders and lives. He is now speaking against the national flag and his own country,” he said and added that if anybody from Sindh had uttered such words, he would have been hanged by now.

Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP) lawmaker Bilquees Mukhtar said nobody was serious about the progress and development of Karachi, but now as the next general elections were drawing closer, everybody was trying to become a sympathiser of Karachi and its dwellers. Even clean drinking water was not available to the people of the metropolis, but the people should know that Karachi is not an unclaimed or orphan city, she added.

Muhammad Dilawar of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement said every day thousands of people were entering Karachi, but no additional funds were being given to the city. He criticised the government for plundering money on development projects.

When PPP MPA Mahesh Kumar Mallani said that all the reverse osmosis plants in Tharparkar were operational, while the Sindh government was working on various projects with assistance from NGOs, the PSP MPA suggested that the Sindh government should also be handed over to NGOs for effective management.

PPP MPA Saira Shahliani claimed that the government was serving the people of Sindh day and night as it had restored peace in Karachi and provided health facilities to the masses through the SIUT and other health institutions in the province. Another PPP legislator, Shamim Mumtaz, claimed that Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto supported the weak through the quota system. She also criticised the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf for promoting vulgarity in the country.

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