As the Supreme Court in Islamabad on Friday finally ordered the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to hold mayoral elections in Sindh through a secret ballot, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) raised the matter in the Sindh Assembly and reiterated its demand for quick completion of the process under which powers would be transferred to the elected local government bodies.
The issue was raised on a point of order by MQM lawmaker Saifuddin Khalid who also referred to Supreme Court’s order, given earlier in the day, while deciding a petition on the method of electing mayors or deputy mayors. The apex court also directed the ECP to complete the process of conducting polls on reserved seats and seats of mayors/deputy mayors/union council chairmen and their election as heads of local government in the province.
Khalid said he had raised the issue since he wanted speedy resolution of civic issues making the lives of people miserable in the city. He said the most pressing problem was supply of water and it had to be resolved at the earliest, since a heatwave was expected to hit the city soon.
In his call attention notice, Khalid also requested Sindh Assembly Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani to use his authority for persuading the provincial government to transfer due powers to the elected local government representatives in the province, as per the constitution.
Durrani responded that it was the responsibility of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to hold and complete the election process, and asked the lawmaker to move all relevant requests for finishing up the leftover stages of local government election to the ECP.
Responding to a call attention notice, Sindh health minister Jam Mehtab Dahar said the authorities concerned had prepared the emergency plan to deal with the aftermath of a potential heatwave and the plan had also been approved by the Sindh High Court.
He said the health department was going to establish 177 heat stroke centres and services of various ambulance services will be availed for ensuring quick response to any situation endangering the lives of people.
He said the chief minister had also written a letter to the federal government requesting exemption from power outages during peak summer season to help avoid casualties due to the heatwave.
Dahar said the K-Electric had also been approached to make arrangements for generating enough power through furnace oil to prevent a shortfall of electricity in the city.
Another MQM lawmaker Syed Khalid in his point of order raised the issue of attacks on the offices of his political party in Landhi, where he claimed party workers were also being threatened and manhandled. He claimed violent actions were being committed by elements rejected by the masses.
In his response, home minister Sohail Anwar Siyal said he had instructed SSP Korangi to take action against miscreants involved in lawless activities.
The provincial minister said within two to three days, he would receive a police report on the investigation about the violence that had occurred in Landhi. He if there was any injustice being committed, he claimed, the police will follow it up.
This remark of the home minister made a PPP lawmaker Mir Nadar Khan Magsi stand up in the House and say to MQM’s Khalid Ahmed, “Since when have your party become so weak that others come and beat your workers up?”
Ahmed replied, “We cannot commit violence in response to violence. We don’t want to see bloodshed revisiting the city of Karachi.”
Opposition lawmakers of Pakistan Muslim League-Functional (PML-F) attended Friday’s session wearing black arm bands to express their angst against the injustices being meted out to farmers across the province owing to “favouritism” by the Sindh food department in the process of wheat procurement.
The party’s parliamentary leader in the House, Nand Kumar, remarked the Sindh
Assembly had passed a resolution in favour of “less-privileged” farmers so they should be benefit in the process of wheat procurement.
Food minister Syed Nasir Hussain Shah replied that certain officers of the department had been suspended on complaints of farmers. He urged the farmers concerned to wait for about a fortnight more, during which he claimed, wheat prices will increase and resolve issues arising in the process of wheat procurement.
Complaints against Wapda
Transport Minister Mumtaz Hussain Jakhrani complained in the House that the Water And Power Development Authority (WAPDA) had been committing injustice against the province.
He said Wapda had removed 70 percent of transformers in his hometown situated in district Jacobabad, owing to which the entire town, including schools and hospitals, was without power.
A lawmaker of the PML-F, Syed Muhammad Rashid Shah Rashdi, said though his party was an ally of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz in the federal government, its leaders were not federal servants were angry over the injustice being meted out to people of Sindh.
He said his party will side with the provincial government led by Pakistan People’s Party against the unjust attitude of Wapda.