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April 24, 2019

Sindh PA witnesses another day of ruckus over offensive remarks

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April 24, 2019

KARACHI: The proceedings of Sindh Assembly were seriously marred on Tuesday as the treasury and Opposition legislators engaged in rumpus, heated exchanges following a supposed “offensive” remarks against the Chairman of Pakistan Peoples Party Bilawal Bhutto Zardari by a Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf lawmaker.

The Sindh Assembly commenced discussion on provincial government’s budgetary performance in 2017-18 and 2018-19 inviting a lively debate and strong criticism from the opposition.

But the debate was seriously interrupted for several minutes due to the 'supposed' insulting remarks by an Opposition legislator against the leader of the ruling party. It all started when the PTI’s lawmaker Raja Azhar Khan termed Bilawal Bhutto Zardari “Defected chairman” (sic as he actually wanted to say defective) and “Defected leader” (sic) as PPP legislators became seriously offended by these remarks.

Raja Azhar said he was compelled to utter such remarks against the PPP chairman after Bilawal repeatedly called PTI Chairman Imran Khan the “selected prime minister” in the National Assembly. This charged the atmosphere and both the PPP MPAs followed by the PTI MPAs gathered in the aisle, dividing the treasury and opposition benches, where they let it out bitterly arguing with each other and engaging one another in heated exchanges. At one point a lady lawmaker of the ruling PPP lost her cool and flung her headphone towards the opposition benches.

This further vitiated the environment of the house and it looked as if the opposition and treasury lawmakers would resort to physical violence against each other.

Fortunately the ugly scene was narrowly avoided owing to timely intervention by a few legislators from both the sides. Resorting to vociferous protest in the house, the PPP legislators said they would not let Opposition legislators speak in the house till the PTI’s MPA tenders apology over his offensive remarks. Things only calmed down when the PTI's Leader of Opposition Firdous Shamim Naqvi apologized.

Firdous said he was apologizing if the remarks of his opposition colleague had offended the treasury legislators and not let a minor issue ruin the proceedings of the assembly on important budgetaryissue. In reciprocation, the Sindh Parliamentary Affairs Minister Mukesh Kumar Chawla welcomed the gesture and regretted use of insulting remarks by any of the treasury legislators against opposition leadership. Deputy Speaker of Sindh Assembly Rehana Laghari, who was chairing the session at that time, also regretted use of personalized attacks against leadership of any political party causing vitiation of the assembly environment.

Earlier the Opposition legislators belonging to PTI, Muttahida Quami Movement, and the Grand Democratic Alliance walked out from the house as the budgetary discussion had barely commenced. The Opposition Leader Firdous Shamim Naqvi led the Opposition legislators of three parties in the walkout as the he wanted allocation of three days for discussion on the upcoming budget 2019-20. Firdous said Speaker Sindh Assembly Agha Siraj Khan Durrani should give a clear-cut ruling on the issue. The Speaker Sindh Assembly said he could not give a ruling in advance but assured that he would allocate three days for the pre-budget discussion. In the absence of a favourable ruling, the Opposition walked out from the house. Later on the Opposition legislators returned and took part in the budgetary debate.

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