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March 12, 2019

Ex-CM Qaim laments ‘blatant violations of Constitution across country’


March 12, 2019

Former Sindh chief minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah on Monday lamented “blatant violations of the Constitution taking place across the country so much so that the constitutional rights of the people and provinces are not being protected by the State”.

Shah was speaking in the provincial assembly on a resolution to felicitate the 80th anniversary of the founding of the old PA building. Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) MPA Ghazala Siyal had moved the resolution in the House.

“We should keep in mind that all the services and sacrifices rendered by Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Shaheed Benazir Bhutto were meant for securing the fundamental rights of the people,” said the former chief executive.

He said he knew that he was digressing from the subject of the resolution on which he was speaking in the House, but he could not ignore the fact that assemblies were meant to enact laws and the Constitution to safeguard the fundamental rights of the people.

He praised the fact that the PA had done so much to safeguard the fundamental rights of the people, saying that more of such efforts should be made by the provincial legislature. He said the Constitution of 1973 had contained the necessary provisions to safeguard the fundamental rights of people, adding that the 18th amendment incorporated in the Constitution during the previous regime of the PPP had given all the due rights to the provinces.

He said it was unfortunate that the grievances in the Centre-provinces relationship had increased in the aftermath of the 18th Constitutional Amendment instead of being decreased. He said the people who felt aggrieved by the 18th amendment should keep in mind that there were people living in the provinces who would become the ultimate beneficiaries if the due rights of the provinces were duly fulfilled.

The former CM complained that the chair of the PA speaker was not being accorded the respect it deserved keeping in view the historical fact that this was the same chair where the Founder of the Nation, Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, had once sat.

He said the chair of the speaker of the House had been dishonoured, adding that those disrespecting the chair of the speaker were in fact showing disregard to the honour and the history associated with this chair.

He did not elaborate further on his remarks, but it was obvious that they were related to the continued imprisonment of the incumbent speaker, Agha Siraj Khan Durrani, by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

Others from the PPP who spoke on the resolution censured the continued incarceration of the sitting speaker on the “mere suspicion that he had committed corruption and accumulated assets beyond his known sources of income”.

Shah said that there were similar corruption-related inquiries and cases against the top leaders of the ruling coalition in the federal government up to the level of prime minister, but NAB or other agencies had never dared take any drastic step, including imprisonment, against them, which showed their utter bias against the PPP.

The MPAs who spoke on the resolution paid rich tributes to the PA, keeping in view the fact that it was the first legislature in the Subcontinent that passed the resolution in favour of the foundation of Pakistan.

Shah said that all the great leaders of the Pakistan Movement, including the Quaid-e-Azam and the first PM Nawabzada Liaquat Ali Khan, had spent time in the Sindh Assembly at the time of the creation of the new country.

Opposition’s walkout

At the outset of the PA’s proceedings, opposition lawmakers belonging to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan and the Grand Democratic Alliance walked out of the House after protesting for some time.

The legislators of the three parties have been agitating in the House for the past several sittings against the provincial government’s decision to not offer the coveted chairmanship of the Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee to the opposition.

PTI lawmaker Khurrum Sher Zaman tried to raise the issue at the outset of Monday’s proceedings, but Deputy Speaker Rehana Laghari did not allow it, resulting first in a demonstration and then a walkout.

Ban on polythene bags

Earlier, Environment Minister Taimur Talpur admitted in the PA that the Sindh cabinet’s ban last year on the usage of polythene bags in Sukkur district as a pilot project to gradually phase out the use of plastic shopping bags in the province could not be implemented yet.

Speaking during the PA’s question hour, he said that there were several reasons because of which the ban could not be imposed.

One of the reasons is that the minister had yet to pay a visit to Sukkur to meet its district administration to decide on a modus operandi to impose the ban.

He said the Sindh government of the PPP would not take any drastic action to altogether shut down the manufacturing units of polythene bags in Sindh, as taking such a harsh step would snatch the livelihoods of the people associated with that industry.

Instead, he added, the manufacturers of the plastic industry would be made to produce polythene bags of the required thickness and quality in order to prolong the usage of the shopping bags to protect the environment.

He said that soon a law would be introduced to increase the penalty from Rs5 million to Rs50 million against the industries in the province involved in the instances of causing pollution and damage to the environment. He added that soon the provincial government would procure the machinery and equipment to monitor the air quality in the province through the most modern and up-to-date means.

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