Sindh Assembly Witnesses Another Eventful Day

Sindh Assembly Witnesses Another Eventful Day Amid Pre-Budget Debate

The Sindh Assembly on Tuesday saw another walkout staged by the opposition and a war of words between members of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party and the opposition Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf after a PTI lawmaker used a word about the PPP leadership that the treasury benches considered unparliamentary and derogatory.

The assembly was going to debate the next fiscal’s budget this week by suspending routine business. However, Speaker Siraj Durrani began the discussion only to see Opposition Leader Firdous Shamim Naqvi rise and claim it was against the rules of procedure not to run business of private members’ day on Tuesday.

Mr. Durrani said everything routine had been suspended after the passage of a motion earlier which allowed skipping the routine agenda to allow for a detailed pre-budget session.

On the demand of Mr. Naqvi that the speaker gives a ruling about the skipping of routine business, he was told that such a ruling had already been given on Monday.

Energy Minister Imtiaz Shaikh said it seemed the opposition did not want to take part in the debate, which was so important and which the same members had been demanding so eagerly in the not-so-distant past.

“We had decided yesterday that the house would discuss the next budget for the next five days and we had already begun it,” said the chair. “It is a decision of the house and not by me.”

Mr. Naqvi, with other opposition members raising voice for him, said instead of discussing budget the house should debate on the auditor general’s report on public accounts.

Mr. Durrani said the pre-budget debate has begun on the demand of the opposition and the same members were now wasting time (of the house).

“It took over 45 minutes to conclude the exchange of arguments between the chair and the opposition leader”

It took over 45 minutes to conclude the exchange of arguments between the chair and the opposition leader on the issue whether the pre-budget debate should resume; it culminated in another walkout by the opposition parties. However, they returned after a while.

During the session, PTI’s Raja Azhar’s certain words provoked noise during the day’s proceedings.

His speech was initially acceptable to the treasury benches even when he said the level of corruption in the present tenure of the PPP government had increased much more than what it was when Syed Qaim Ali Shah was the chief minister.

He demanded that the government account for the money it had received from Islamabad so far. He mocked the government’s assertion about greater spending in the education sector when he said teachers in many schools could not write even their own names.

However, during the speech he called the PPP leaders as “defected” in response to the opposition’s frequently used phrase “selected prime minister” about Imran Khan. His phrase was termed unacceptable by the government benches.

Every member on the treasury benches stood up and many of them moved closer to the opposition’s area, loudly protesting against the PTI lawmaker’s “offensive and objectionable” language. Members of the PPP and the PTI got dangerously close to each other as the opposition benches occupied by the MQM-P and the GDA remained quiet.

The sanctity of the Assembly was further put into question when a female member from the treasury benches, Kulsoom Chandio was seen and later caught on mobile phone cameras, hurling a headphone at the PTI’s lawmaker, during the commotion.

 

Is this how elected members of the national and provincial assemblies are supposed to behave? Has decency and professionalism completely gone out of the window? It seems as if both the ruling and opposition parties in the Sindh Assembly are incapable of getting along and all they do is stage walk-outs and hurl abuses at one another, instead of doing something constructive for the people of Sindh.

Faisal Rahat

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