KARACHI - Opposition parties warned the provincial government on Friday that they would run a parallel assembly outside the Sindh Assembly building if the speaker does not allow them to speak on issues of public interest through adjournment motions and other agenda items.

Just 30 minutes after the provincial assembly session started on Friday, opposition parties like the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) staged a boycott of the assembly proceedings. They said they were not being allowed to speak on speaker’s decision to bypass the question and answer session and call attention notices in order to discuss the quarterly reports on utilisation of funds allocated under the Budget 2016-17.

The assembly proceedings on Friday began more than an hour after the scheduled time. Soon after recitation of Holy Quran, Sindh Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Nisar Ahmed Khuhro, speaking on a point of order, asked the speaker to bypass the discussion on the question hour and call attention notices and start discussion on the quarterly reports on budget utilisation.

“The members arrived late in the assembly and proceedings of the house started more than an hour late. Since we have to attend the death anniversary of former chief minister Syed Abdullah Shah, the question hour and the call attention notices be postponed for Monday and discussion on important budget spending be initiated, bypassing the other agenda,” he said. He said that he had taken parliamentary leaders of other parties into confidence on this issue.

On this, MQM lawmaker Aamir Moin Pirzada and PTI lawmaker Khurram Sher Zaman stood up to oppose the decision. The speaker asked the parliamentary minister to present a motion to postpone all other agenda and discuss the quarterly reports. The motion was passed by the house and this irked the opposition members who staged a walkout from the assembly.

The speaker then asked PPP MPA Ghazala Siyal to speak on the reports. The PPP MPA, who was not prepared for this, spoke on the reports just for a few minutes.

The speaker said that he had given a chance to opposition parties to express themselves in the house. “When we were in opposition, we were not allowed to even speak on our call attention notices. The assembly agenda from opposition was bulldozed by the government of that time,” he said. The speaker later adjourned the session for Monday at 2pm.

Speaking to the media outside the provincial assembly, MQM lawmaker Pirzada said that bad governance of the PPP was evident in the house and now it wanted to impose it on the provincial assembly through the Sindh Assembly speaker.

He said that their privilege motions and adjournment motions were not entertained by the speaker at recent sessions and even today the entire agenda was bypassed to discuss the budget spending.

“It is of no value to us to attend such assembly proceedings where we are not allowed raising public issues,” he said, adding that they did not want to boycott the discussion on quarterly reports; they just wanted to ask the speaker to extend the assembly session by another day to discuss these reports.

Speaking on the occasion, the PTI lawmaker described the assembly as fake and said the PPP was running the affairs of the assembly in the same manner. He said the joint opposition would bring an adjournment motion on other business of the house on Monday. “If it is not entertained, we will hold a parallel session of the house on the stairs of the assembly building,” he said.

“This assembly and its ministers are enjoying all the facilities with taxpayers’ money, but they are not allowed to raise public issues. Instead, new building of the assembly has been renovated, parking facility worth millions has been built and residency for lawmakers is being constructed,” he said. He said the provincial government was not capable of getting city’s solid waste disposed of therefore it was bringing people from China to do this job.

Responding to opposition lawmakers’ criticism, Minister for Transport Nasir Hussain Shah told the media outside the assembly that the speaker was running the assembly affairs according to the rules and procedures. He said the government did not care about opposition parties’ decision to hold a parallel session outside the assembly building.

“According to the law, the proceedings will be held inside the assembly and it is up to the opposition to participate or not,” he said.

He demanded that the PTI lawmaker apologise for his statement calling the assembly fake.