Opposition hurls barbs at PPP over changes in LG law

Opposition hurls barbs at PPP over changes in LG law


KARACHI: The opposition parties - Mutahidda Qaumi Movement (MQM), Pakistan Muslim League-Functional (PML-F), Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) - demonstrated rare unity while resisting the amendments in the local government law in the Sindh Assembly session on Friday, but ended up staging a walkout due to insufficient strength, compared to treasury benches.
The house, with Pakistan People's Party (PPP) lawmakers in presence, approved amendments into Sindh Local Government Act, 2013, by passing two ordinances, in disregard of opposition parties' misgivings.
The session, which kicked off at 3:20pm, was presided over by Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani. Soon after the question hour session, Irfanullah Marwat of the PML-N rose and attempted to read out the motion on behalf of all the opposition members. The speaker intervened and asked him to bring the motion once assembly was done with its regular business. Bickering ensued right afterwards.
"I will not stay if my motion is not taken up," shouted Marwat. All opposition legislators yelled in unison after being denied permission to present their motion. The house echoed with slogans, "Black law...unacceptable", "Sindh government, haye, haye!". 
The speaker gave a floor to the minority MPA, Nand Kumar Goklani, to move his privilege motion as it was listed in the order of the day. Amid uproar, Goklani stood and said he withdrew his motion, which was welcomed by all the opposition lawmakers with desk-thumping.
Members of the opposition also tore up the copies of the ordinances. MQM legislators kept on yelling at the treasury benches as Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani continued placating the PPP lawmakers, who enjoy simple majority in the house with a total of 95 MPAs in the assembly of 168 legislators.
Committees' formation: Earlier, speaking on a point of order, Opposition Leader Faisal Sabzwari drew attention of the house towards non-formation of committees. He said, under rule-189 of the Rules and Procedures of the Sindh Assembly, Public Accounts Committee (PAC) should be formulated after the general elections. "Elections were held in May, but despite lapse of six months neither the PAC nor any standing committee has been formed so far." This is against the rules, he added.
Sabzwari said standing committees work everywhere across the world with powers. "But this should not be precedence here any more."
Law Minister Sikander Mandhro replied that, "We agree that such committees should have been formed as we had also announced it after the budget session this year."
Speaker said a meeting could be arranged in the first week of January to discuss the issue.
Mandhro announced that a meeting would be convened on January 2 to finalise the matter.
Speaking on the bill, Dr Mandhro said governor had the prerogative to issue ordinance to amend the bill, in case the assembly was not in session.
He stated the opposition members moved their motion against the law. "According to law, they should have submitted a 3-day prior notice before bringing the out-of-turn resolution," Mandhro told the house. He added that there was no substance in the protest of opposition lawmakers. He maintained that LG elections would be free, fair and transparent under the law passed by the house.
Sindh Education Minister Nisar Ahmed Khuhro said neither a resolution nor any amendment was submitted by the opposition parties at the time of submission of requisition for assembly session. "They should come here and discuss their apprehensions on the floor," he said.
None of the PPP members spoke on the amendments made into the LG law and both the ordinances -Sindh Local Government (Second Amendment) Ordinance, 2013 and Sindh Local Government (Third Amendment) Ordinance, 2013 - were inserted into the bill and passed by the house in absence of the opposition.
Later, the house also adopted two separate resolutions; one pertaining to recognition of services of late PPP chairperson and former prime minister Benazir Bhutto in view of her death anniversary on December 27 and the other paying tribute to the famous Sindh Sufi poet Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai.
The speaker also announced governor's assent to the following bills: Lyari Development Authority (Revival and Amending) Bill, 2013, Gorakh Hills Development Authority (Amendment) Bill, 2013, Malir Development Authority (Revival and Amending) Bill, 2013, Hyderabad Development Authority (Revival and Amending) Bill, 2013 and Sehwan Development Authority (Revival and Amending) Bill, 2013.
Earlier, the speaker constituted a panel of chairperson comprising Ghulam Mujtaba Isran, Ali Nawaz Shah, Heer Soho and Nand Kumar Goklani. The speaker later prorogued the session.

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