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CM, opposition leader oppose division of Sindh

CM, opposition leader oppose division of Sindh

KARACHI: The opposition in the Sindh Assembly appeared to be a house divided over the controversy involving the demand by the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan for dividing the province when all members of the Grand Democratic Alliance, and several lawmakers of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, including Leader of the Opposition Firdous Shamim Naqvi, stood with the treasury benches to oppose the Muttahida’s demand.

The house got divided late on Monday night during the current session’s longest proceedings when Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah during his speech reiterated his party’s stern stance against carving out of a new province from Sindh. Mr Shah asked the assembly’s members to show whether they supported the MQM-P’s demand or wanted the unity of Sindh.

“Those who are against the division of Sindh should stand with me,” he said and the leader of the opposition, several members of his PTI and all members of the GDA present in the house stood up. All members of the MQM-P and some of the PTI members did not rise.

“I ask a question to the representatives of all the political parties in the house to stand up with me and show their opposition to the division of Sindh. I am already standing, else, people in my constituency and the rest of Sindh would not forgive me,” said Mr Shah.

“Anyone who speaks against and wants to tear up one’s mother, people will not forgive them. However, those who want to divide Sindh stay sitting on their seats.”

Earlier, during his speech, the chief minister referred to a lawmaker who had said in an earlier speech that the Sindh government did not contribute money to the armed forces. “I just [want to] remind them that the government allocates separate budget for our armed forces.”

CM Shah said during a recent meeting the prime minister had asked him to forget about the K-IV project.

“I received a call from Islamabad a month ago in which I was asked to come to Islamabad for a meeting on that bulk water supply scheme, but soon another phone call came in which they said the meeting had been cancelled.”

He asked the federal government to “punish me if you have any complaint against me, but why is water being denied to the people of Karachi?”

About the Green Line project, CM Shah said Islamabad told him that the federal authorities had allocated some funds and would themselves run buses on it.

“We welcome it, but I don’t see those buses will be running in the city next month.”

He said the Sindh government would not allocate land for the ML-I project for which Islamabad had signed an agreement with China.

“We’ll allot land for the Karachi Circular Railway but not for that project; because this is Karachi’s land and people of this city have the first right to benefit from it. We’ll not give land to the Pakistan Railways but to the KCR,” the CM said.

He referred to repeated allegations about “commission” flowing to the provincial government from the funds allocated for the National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases, saying: “Hate us as you have always been doing, but at least do appreciate if something good is being done in our province”.

He said so far Sindh had received just Rs406 billion of its share from Islamabad while last year it had received Rs616bn. However, with the re-imposition of the mobile phone tax by court, its collection had again been given to the province.

He said because of a shortfall in funds from Islamabad, development works in Sindh had been badly affected; yet, despite all hardships in collections, Sindh was ahead of the other provinces.

On Tuesday, an adjournment motion moved by the PTI’s Arsalan Taj was declared not maintainable by the chair. The motion was against the Sindh Building Control Authority, which claimed the officials had misused powers that resulted in illegal constructions across the province.

The mover alleged that the SBCA was involved in wrongdoings with impunity. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Mukesh Chawla said the matter was sub-judice and it could not be discussed in the house.

The house referred two bills regarding amendments in laws about water management in Sindh and control of narcotic substances to a select committee. The bills were moved by MQM-P’s Rana Ansar and PTI’s Rabia Nizami.

Published in Dawn, May 1st, 2019

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