By Saba Imtiaz
PPP and PML-F MPAs slug it out on the floor of the Sindh Assembly.
KARACHI: There is perhaps nothing more irritating than a coalition partner whose MPA keeps bringing up complaints and government failings in the Sindh Assembly.
If this is the case, then the Pakistan Muslim League-F’s (PML-F) Marvi Rashdi has done an admirable job of becoming a thorn in the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party’s (PPP) side. On Tuesday, she incurred the wrath of PPP MPA Shazia Marri who completely lost her cool.
The spat erupted when Rashdi moved a resolution, calling on the government to “approach the Federal Government for inclusion of a Colum (sic) for the name of an Adoptive Parents in the Identity Documents of a Child”. Some MPAs explained to her that the names of adoptive parents are legally included on identity documents but Marri just lost her cool.
Speaker Nisar Khuhro told Marri that she had no right to dictate to a legislator (I do, Marri retorted) because it was an MPA’s right to move a resolution and it was up to the assembly to decide. PPP MPAs groaned as Social Welfare Minister Nargis ND Khan chose to proclaim, at this point, that “adoption is against the injunctions of Islam” and had no place in “Mohammaden law”. Khuhro then turned to the older, wiser heads in the assembly – MQM’s Sardar Ahmed and PPP’s Dr Sikandar Mandhro – who explained the legalities and advised Rashdi to withdraw the resolution.
But Tuesday was to be the second consecutive day for screaming matches involving Rashdi. On Monday, PPP ministers Marri and Rafique Engineer raged against her for equating the alleged misbehaviour of Balochistan Chief Minister Aslam Raisani’s sons to the Baloch demands for rights. Later on Monday, law minister, Ayaz Soomro, even mimicked a crow’s “caw caw” as Rashdi interrupted him.
The Sindh Assembly did manage to pass a resolution, proposed by Aisha Khoso, calling on the provincial government to immediately do something to treat industrial waste so it can help with vegetable cultivation in Malir and other industrial zones in the province.
All is well
By his own admission, Sindh Home Minister Manzoor Wassan was on his way to an event on Tuesday when he realised it was private member day in the Sindh Assembly and decided to make a detour. Inside the assembly, however, he encountered waiting MPAs who brought up the security conditions, lack of implementation of laws and issues with policing in their constituencies.
Wassan’s defence involved the usual promises – “I will look into this and suspend any police officers involved” and “Things were much worse before I took over”. All this did was compound the complaints that came from MPAs of every party and PPP ministers.
MPA Pitanbar Sewani said that “for the first time in the history of Pakistan, thousands of Hindus took to the streets to protest” over the alleged forced conversion of a Hindu girl, Rinkal in Mirpur Mathelo. He listed the recent abductions and forced conversions in Sindh, including that of a doctor in Karachi.
MPAs shared gruesome details of human rights cases, including a woman in Matiari whose nose had been cut off after being declared kari, two children in Kambar taluka who had been abducted and killed, extortionists in Mirpurkhas, harassment of female students at the Abdullah Girls College in Karachi, illegal electricity connections in Malir’s Liaquat Market and the rise of wall chalking in the provincial capital. The complaints ensued in Women Development Minister Tauqeer Fatima Bhutto directly appealing to Wassan for his assistance in protecting the rights of women while Deputy Speaker Shehla Raza asked if a desk for women could be added at existing police stations if there were no separate police stations.
But Wassan was calm and collected. In a long, drawn-out response, he highlighted that the police could not interfere in court cases and that extortion had “completely stopped” when he took action and any resurgence would be dealt with. He also told the assembly that he had posted two women as SSPs in Karachi and two as SHOs in Umerkot and Mirpurkhas.
Ministers for forest and tourism Syed Ali Nawaz Shah Rizvi and Muhammad Ali Malkani responded to questions on Tuesday. He had some good news: Politicians visiting the Bhutto family mausoleum in Garhi Khuda Bux will have a place to stay as they have proposed building a Rs60 million rest house.
Rizvi, on the other hand, revealed that 35% of the mangroves planted in 2009 in an attempt to break a world record for the number of saplings planted in one day have been destroyed, but more are being planted.
What to watch for
In the days ahead, two issues will dominate discussions in and outside the assembly. The first involves the disqualification of MPA and former Sindh chief minister Arbab Ghulam Rahim who heads a bloc of the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) called the PML-Q (Likeminded).
The second involves a committee on the resolution arguing against the deletion of Article 239 (4) from the constitution. The article deals with the creation of new provinces.
Shazia Marri (PPP): You should be ashamed of yourself. You have no brains to talk. You have no brains to write. Look at your English language. Look at your language, it’s a kindergarten kid’s. Look at the way you are writing. I don’t know what school you’ve been to.
Ayaz Soomro: Sain, tell me one thing. When she got the certificate was the minister there? … These remarks need to be expunged from the record… [in Sindhi]
Khuhro [to Marri]: How can you say this? The assembly has to decide about it… This is on the floor of the assembly; how can you say this?
No, no, no, no, no, no… I don’t think it is required…
Shazia Marri (PPP): Yes sir! I can say this! I can say this, this is my opinion. And she should behave herself. She should learn manners and then come to this House. What does she think, she can stand up and talk without a mic! She is not recognized by you. She should not be given the right to talk [sic] whatever she wants to talk!
Marvi Rashidi (PML-F): If she thinks that she can play with words and try and get me to shut up, she is sorely mistaken. We will never remain silent. And we will never march to her orders [dictation]. Look here, she is under the impression that if she piles on the make-up she can impress herself on other women. Even we put on make-up, agreed, but when it comes to her, she does face-painting.
Shazia Marri (PPP): She has no right to talk like this. She is not fit to be a legislator. She is not fit to be a legislator!