Published in The Nation newspaper on 06-Mar-2012
KARACHI - Members of the Sindh Assembly, on Monday, refused to grant leave to former Sindh chief minister Dr Arbab Ghulam Rahim.
The PML-Likeminded president attended only the first session of the incumbent legislature in 2008. He is in self-exile since. Through his party MPA Abdur Razzaque Rahimoon, the chief of the PML-Likeminded, a breakaway faction of the PML-Q, submitted two separate leave applications stating that “he was in Dubai and wasn’t feeling well. His doctor has advised him not to travel by air”.
Speaker Nisar Khuhro put the leave applications before the House that refused them in an outright manner.
It may be mentioned here that Arbab Rahim was attacked allegedly by PPP jayalas in the assembly corridors, when he came to take oath during the first session in April 2008. For the fear of victimisation, Arbab Rahim proceeded to Dubai and applied for leave from there. Afterwards, the assembly quietly kept granting him leave under the ruling PPP’s “political reconciliation”.
Nevertheless, during the recent Senate election, the PML-Likeminded chief pitted his three candidates against those from the PPP-led coalition, after the government refused to accept his demands. Through fielding his candidates, Rahim virtually torpedoed the government’s efforts to get its candidates elected unopposed.
The House’s refusal to his leave applications is a sort of vendetta waged against him for not obliging the ruling party.
When the chair brought the two applications in the House, lawmakers from the MQM, ANP, NNP and PML-Q remained silent. But, Law Minister Ayaz Soomro rose and sarcastically said that Arbab Rahim was ill for the last four years, but “he did not mention what disease he was suffering from”. In response, Razzaque Rahimoon decidedly said that specifying details of the ailment was not necessary. “The House may grant or reject the leave. It is up to it (now),” he asserted. The law minister said the chief minister of the dictatorial era had used unparliamentarily language against the incumbent leader of the House who is also the provincial president of the PPP.
He claimed that his party did not believe in the politics of victimisation, saying that no political worker of any party was victimised. “But if someone was involved in a criminal case, a legal procedure was adopted against him.” It was Arbab Rahim who got registered a fake bombing case against MPA Zahid Bhurgari (a vocal critic of the former chief minister), he recalled while maintaining that “the PPP government was pursuing a policy of reconciliation that wasn’t vindictive either.
The House, which was set in motion by Nisar Ahmed Khuhro more than one-and-a-half hours beyond the scheduled time of 10:00am, witnessed a commotion when PML-F legislator Marvi Rashidi, on a point of order, complained that the Balochistan chief minister’s two sons, who were intoxicated, created a scene in front of the residence of the National Assembly speaker, Fehmida Mirza, but the Sindh Home Ministry didn’t take any action. She said it was startling that on one hand the Balochs were crying for their rights, while on the other, they were torturing and humiliating the people.
Marvi’s remarks drew a severe reaction from the government side. Condemning the PML-F lawmaker’s statement, Information Minister Shazia Marri said that “acts of individuals should not be linked to the rights of the Balochs”. The people of Sindh fully support the rights of the Balochs, she added. Rafique Engineer, Ghulam Qadir Chandio and a number of other MPAs came down hard on Marvi for her remarks that were expunged from the proceedings on the request of the law minister.
Meanwhile, the House passed a bill “Sindh Regularisation of Teachers Appointed on Contract Basis Bill, 2012” into law in order to regularise services of teachers appointed on contract basis after tests at the Institute of Business Administration (IBA), Sukkur, and Sindh University Testing Centre, Jamshoro in 2008 and 2009.
Another bill, “the Syed Abdullah Shah Institute of Medical Sciences Bill, 2012, was passed into law, with a view to provide modern medical facilities in Sehwan and undertake post-graduate teaching programmes for advancement of medical sciences in the district.
Majority of the lawmakers desired to speak on the bill. However, the speaker allowed a few of them due to the want of time, and asked the law minister to conclude the general discussion on the bill on behalf of other legislators. Alike legislation on the two important issues, the House also passed another bill, the Establishment of the Office of Ombudsman for the Province of Sindh (Amendment) Bill, 2012, by making a minor amendment to “the Establishment of the Office of Ombudsman for the Province of Sindh Act, 1991” with a view to streamline its provisions.
Earlier, PPP lawmaker Dr Ahmed Ali Shah demanded extension in the date for the registration of votes, saying a large number of people had yet to get their names enlisted in new electoral roll. He complained that the NADRA did not display voters’ lists in interior parts of the province.
Sindh Minister for Transport Akhtar Jadoon complained that people of his constituency were facing acute shortage of drinking water, and warned that the people of Keamari would block the Karachi Port, if this issue was not resolved. Later, the speaker adjourned the House until Tuesday morning.
Published in The Nation newspaper on 06-Mar-2012