Karachi - Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah said the cases of three PPP leaders, who have been missing for the last few days, apparently did not appear to be the cases of abduction.

He further sought agencies’ help to find out their whereabouts.

He was responding to a point of order raised by provincial minister Imdad Ahmed Patafi in Sindh Assembly on Wednesday on the disappearance of three close associates of Asif Ali Zardari.  

The CM informed the House that Ashfaq Leghari had left his residence in Islamabad for Hyderabad on April 3, but later his car was found abandoned near a hotel in Gadap Town in Karachi.

He further said that another missing aide of Zardari, Ghulam Qadir, had met him in Naudero on April 4 and later on April 7 had informed him that he was about to reach his residence in Hyderabad. “Ghulam Qadir was intercepted by men seated in two vehicles who also had wireless sets with them,” the chief minister disclosed. 

“Concerns of members of the provincial assembly in this regard are justified as the government is responsible for safeguarding the lives and properties of citizens and police is investigating the issue,” Murad said.  He further said that prima facie it appeared the incidents were not the cases of abduction, and he would also ask the agencies to cooperate in this regard.

Reiterating PPP’s reservations over the disappearances, the chief minister said that if someone had picked them up then they should be produced in a court within the next 24 hours.

“If any state institution has picked them up then it should follow the law and constitution and present them before the court of law as per the prescribed time of 24 hours,” he requested.

Responding to the issue of missing MQM activists, Murad said that none had contacted him over their disappearances after 22 August.

“The situation that developed in the aftermath of August 22 speech by Altaf Hussain is an evidence as to why we link MQM with terrorists and the party should take action against anyone within its ranks involved in such activities,” he said.

The CM further said that the law of the land should be followed in cases of terrorists also and he had complete sympathy with those who had been forcefully picked up. “The issue of missing persons is a serious matter and I will now raise this issue,” he said, adding that Sindh police was answerable in the missing persons’ case irrespective of the fact whoever took them away.

“We will not spare anyone involved in criminal and terrorist activities,” he said, and clarified, “But will follow the course of law.”  Earlier speaking on the issue, Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) lawmaker Faisal Sabzwari said that they had been asking the PPP to raise voice over missing MQM activists. “But no one paid heed to us. Now when the wind has started blowing against the PPP itself, suddenly it has woken up to the issue,” he taunted. He said that PPP should bear in mind that MQM too had its 145 activists missing. “Still we were not allowed to raise voice over the issue in the House,” he grumbled.

“MQM activists are not orphans as the entire party stands behind them,” he said, adding that whenever an MQM activist was arrested, he was arrested without any justification and false claims were made of his association with terrorism. He said that MQM was a staunch supporter of rule of law and the party had been raising voice consistently that if anyone was guilty of any wrongdoing then he should be produced before the court of law.

“It is unfortunate that the law was not enforced in our case,” he lamented.

“I cannot tell the condition of these 150 families whose loved ones are missing and these injustices are being done on the soil of Sindh,” he said, and added, “The provincial government should ensure the rule of law; not the rule of jungle.”

PPP lawmaker Khairun Nisa Mughal said that whenever the PML-N came to power at Centre it tried to deprive the smaller provinces of their rights.

“Nawaz Sharif comes to Sindh but tries to create hindrances in PPP’s way whenever its leaders visit Punjab,” she said.

She further demanded to immediately disclose the whereabouts of PPP leaders and said that the PML-N government should ensure that distinction between democracy and dictatorship remained intact. “It is not the first time that this has happened as two bloggers were released after being picked up by the authorities,” she said. PML-F Lawmaker Mehtab Akber Rashidi said that they had been listening to enforced disappearances for quite some time but now the people from ruling party had also gone missing.

“These acts are ruining the cultural norms of Sindh,” she said, adding that if anyone was found guilty of any illegal activity, then he should be tried in courts.

Deputy Speaker Sindh Assembly Shehla Raza opined that this was not the first time that the PPP was witnessing this injustice. “However, this time the target is PPPP President Asif Ali Zardari,” she lamented.

“They have illegally picked up the friends of Asif Ali Zardari,” she said, adding that this situation reminded us the politics of 90’s. “PML-N is doing this deliberately to divert attention from the decision pending in Panama leaks case,” she alleged.

She further asked the Muttahida Qaumi Movement to support PPP in this case and warned Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan that he could not suppress the PPP’s voice through these acts.

MQM lawmaker Zafar Kamali said that it seemed that the Assembly looked worried and disappointed to which the speaker Sindh Assembly said that no one was worried here.

“The weather was not pleasant for us yesterday, but now this heat is also taking its toll on the PPP,” he said, adding that no one had responded to MQM’s calls when its workers had been picked up.

He said that they would continue to raise voice against these forced disappearances without discrimination of the party basis.

Meanwhile, the house also approved a bill pertaining to Sindh Development and Maintenance of Infrastructure Cess Bill 2017.

The bill was earlier passed from the house on March 27 but was returned from the governor Sindh with a note.

The House also passed a resolution tabled from MQM Parliamentary Leader Syed Sardar Ahmed pertaining to demolishing a school in Soldier Bazar which was a protected heritage site under Sindh Cultural Heritage (Preservation Act 1994. The school was built by a lady named Sybil D’ Abreo on her own property in 1931.

The resolution said that this House resolves that not only the culprits including the members of the law enforcing agency who witnessed this demolition with relish be punished but also the school building be reconstructed as a Model school immediately.