Soon after the session was declared open by speaker Agha Siraj Durrani, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) MPA Khurram Sher Zaman raised the issue of the Shree Ratneshwar Mahadev Temple near the Abdullah Shah Ghazi shrine in Clifton. “A builder is constructing an underpass and a flyover in the area, which is a serious threat to the historical temple in my constituency,” he said. “Members of the Hindu community have approached me on the issue. However, government officials seem unwilling to take any action. If something does happen to the temple, then there may be a backlash in India and other countries, where our mosques will no longer be safe.”
Durrani suggested that Zaman should move an adjournment motion on this issue rather than raising it on a point-of-order. “You will be responsible if the temple is demolished,” was the PTI MPA’s reply. Durrani responded that he was only responsible for following the rules and procedures of the provincial assembly.
“This will also damage the image of Pakistan,” warned Zaman, who was just as concerned about the destruction of the temple as he was of the resulting repercussions, requesting that the government take preventative measures.
The minister for parliamentary affairs, Dr Sikandar Mandhro, informed Zaman that a case was pending before the court and that construction had started with the approval of the Sindh Building Control Authority. Meanwhile, the minister for minorities’ affairs, Giyan Chand Essarani, assured Zaman that nothing will happen to the temple.
Later, Pakistan Muslim League-Functional parliamentary leader Nand Kumar Goklani informed the assembly that another temple has been attacked by a mob in Hyderabad’s Hali Road on Friday morning. “After the Larkana incident, where miscreants attacked our Dharam Shala, some people have demolished a temple and then set it on fire in Hyderabad,” he said. “Due to the attacks, we Hindus are feeling insecure and conspiracies are being hatched to force us to leave our land.”
The minister for minorities’ affairs, briefing the assembly about government action against law enforcers, said that the DSP and SHO of the area have been suspended by the Hyderabad DIG for failing to control the situation.
Resolution against threats to Bilawal Bhutto
The assembly unanimously adopted a resolution condemning the threat by the banned Lashkar-e-Jhangvi to Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) patron-in-chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.
The assembly recommended the provincial government approach the federal government to take serious notice of the threats and take all necessary measures to protect the PPP leader.
PPP’s Dr Abdul Sattar Rajar, who moved the resolution, told the media afterwards that the Punjab government was associating with terrorists and providing them protection. “Despite the ban, the leaders of the militant organisations are holding different events with the approval of the provincial government,” he claimed.
Three other resolutions were also adopted by the assembly. In a resolution moved by Muttahida Qaumi Movement MPA Sumeta Afzal Syed, the provincial assembly condemned the kidnapping and murder of a lady health worker in Peshawar and demanded that the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and federal governments take notice of the act and arrest those behind it.
Meanwhile, a resolution was moved by Dr Mandhro to observe internationally recognised days to which Pakistan is a signatory, including World Water Day and World Natural Conservation Day.
Zaman’s resolution to provide first aid to every injured or casualty case that comes to a government or private hospital, before conducting any medico-legal formalities, was also adopted by the House.
Displaced persons and Lyari cause concern
The Sindh Assembly was informed on Friday that the provincial government was making all possible efforts to set up camps for the internally displaced persons (IDPs) from Waziristan.
The efforts include setting up a biometric system and CCTV cameras at the provincial border in the wake of the Waziristan operation. “We will set up a picket with the police and Rangers personnel,” said Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader Dr Sikandar Mandhro. “The IDPs will be kept in camps from where they will be sent back once the operation has ended.”
Mandhro was responding to a call-to-attention notice moved by Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) MPA Kamran Akhtar on the migration of people from Waziristan. During his speech, Akhtar showed photos of different areas of Karachi that, according to him, have turned into safe havens for terrorists.
The issue of Lyari threatened to create tension inside the assembly but speaker Agha Siraj Durrani tackled the situation well, consoling the clashing MQM and PPP MPAs.
The argument began soon after MQM’s Khalid Ahmed brought up the issue of the bomb attacks in Lyari’s Jhat Pat market. Dr Mandhro said a few criminals involved in the attack have been killed and arrested and that the case was sub judice. “We cannot initiate a debate,” he said. “The case is in the court and the issue has been resolved.”
However, PPP minister Javed Nagori, who belongs to Lyari, said that the police have arrested other criminals rather than those involved in the attack and claimed that one of the arrested is the guard of an MNA. “The guard was involved in murders and other criminal cases,” he claimed. His claims displeased the MQM members, who started criticising the PPP minister. However, Durrani calmed them down before adjourning the session till Monday.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 29th, 2014.