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June 13, 2019

Sindh PA condemns Zardari’s arrest amidst strong protest by opposition


June 13, 2019

KARACHI: Amid strong protest by the Opposition, the Sindh Assembly on Wednesday passed with majority vote a resolution to categorically condemn the arrest of former president and PPP

Co-Chairperson Asif Ali Zardari in “fabricated and politically motivated cases” by the NAB and to demand his immediate release. The resolution was moved by MPA of ruling Pakistan Peoples Party Jam Madad Ali. Throughout the sitting of the house, the Opposition legislators kept on vociferously protesting against the bad governance, and poor performance of the PPP-led Sindh government, and corruption allegedly being committed by rulers of the province. The opposition legislators belonging to Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, Muttahida Qaumi Movement, and Grand Democratic Alliance, held placards inside the house as they raised slogans against the provincial government. The opposition legislators gathered near the rostrum of the Speaker during their agitation. They earned the ire of Speaker Agha Siraj Khan Durrani as they used their cell phone cameras for recording their protest while one of them even used a wireless microphone to raise slogans. Some of the Opposition legislators also attempted to stand on their seats in the house drawing reprimand from the Speaker. The placards were inscribed with slogans demanding PPP’s Sindh government to take actions to ensure water supply to Karachi, lifting of garbage, elimination of street crimes from the city and to tackle the the HIV epidemic in the province. Some of the placards carried slogans against rampant corruption also. Throughout the time when the house discussed and passed the resolution, the Opposition legislators kept on shouting slogan: “Gali gali main shor ha, sara tabar chor ha” and other slogans against corruption in provincial government and PPP leaders.

The resolution passed by the house stated: “This house categorically condemns the arrest of former President of Pakistan and current member of National Assembly President Asif Ali Zardari by the NAB, in a patently fabricated and politically motivated cases; recognizes the unmatched services and personal sacrifices made by the President Zardari for the restoration of democracy in Pakistan; and demands his immediate release given that the NAB is clearly on a political witch-hunt at the behest of forces who want to silence the voices of truth”. The resolution carried signatures of a number of the PPP lawmakers. While speaking on his resolution, PPP’s MPA Jam Madad Ali said former president Asif Ali Zardari is a daring politician who remained incarcerated for up to 12 years. He said Zardari after spending so much time behind the bars was discharged honorably by the courts. He said the cases implicating the former president were unduly transferred from Karachi to Rawalpindi. Madad Ali said the PPP leaders have never received justice from Rawalpindi given the publicly known cases of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto who was also martyred there. He said the PPP leaders are being penalized for championing democracy. The PPP’s legislator said that once the house passes the resolution, the Sindh government should pressurize the federal government to secure the freedom of former president. He demanded providing Zardari with all the due privileges and facilities during incarceration. He said Zardari would be soon freed as all the allegations leveled against him would prove wrong. He censured the National Accountability Bureau for earlier arresting the incumbent Speaker Sindh Assembly from Islamabad in total disregard to the sanctity of the chair of the Speaker of the assembly.

PPP’s MPAs Syed Zulfiqar Ali Shah, Makhdoom Mahboob-uz-Zaman, Syeda Shehla Raza, Shamim Mumtaz, Burhan Chandio, Ghanwer Ali Khan Isran also spoke on the resolution and condemned the discriminatory attitude being meted out to the PPP’s leaders in the name of accountability drive in the country. The lawmakers said it seems there existed different accountability agencies in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, given slower pace of investigation by the NAB of cases in these two provinces as compared to an accelerated accountability drive in Sindh. They condemned the NAB "for not taking cognizance of the case of prime minister's sister Aleema Khan" who had accumulated massive wealth from unknown sources. The PPP’s legislators said Aleema Khan and other PTI leaders have been given a virtual amnesty scheme to easily declare and whiten their assets and wealth accumulated through dubious methods. They said the NAB should have taken up the case of Peshawar Metro Bus project, whose cost had massively increased while launching of the project was unduly delayed.

Earlier, when the house was called into order, Leader of Opposition belonging Firdous Shamim Naqvi, belonging to PTI, on a point of order questioned the validity of the requisition submitted by the treasury lawmakers of PPP on basis of which session was convened. He alleged that the requisition had initially contained the signatures of only four lawmakers as later signatures of more MPAs were gathered since many of them were not present in Karachi. He said despite his repeated demands Secretary of Sindh Assembly didn’t provide him a copy of the requisition on basis of which the session was summoned. The Opposition leader said around Rs five million are spent on every sitting of the house and there was no reason to wastefully spend public money especially when the session was summoned without any valid cause.

In response to the objections of the Opposition leader, Speaker Sindh Assembly Agha Siraj Khan Durrani gave the ruling that the order to summon the assembly session was lawfully notified and there was no illegality behind it. Later after the house passed the resolution in support of Zardari, Speaker Siraj Durrani condemned the unruly attitude of the Opposition lawmakers during their protest. He said the Opposition legislators have no consideration for the sanctity of the assembly as they brazenly used cell phone cameras to record their protest which would ultimately compel him to ban use of cellular phones inside the assembly.

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