Karachi: Proceedings of the provincial Sindh assembly came to a halt on Monday over the Speaker’s refusal to allow the opposition to debate a suicide bomb blast that left over 80 people killed and hundreds injured.
The standoff between ruling party and opposition legislators began following a statement by chief minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, in which he described the bomb blast in the town of Sehwan as a ‘security lapse’.
Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) leader Izharul Hasan demanded the Speaker, Agha Siraj Durrani, allow him to give his account in the assembly but the permission was denied.
Opposition members of parliament started shouting to protest the refusal, but the Speaker kept ignoring their protests.
The members rallied in protest, around the Speaker’s chair, and proceedings in the assembly were called off for five minutes.
The protest continued, even after the resumption of proceedings, but the Speaker ordered the question-answer session in the parliament.
As no question was asked, the Speaker allowed the minister for local government to table an amendment to a local government bill.
The amendment was adopted by the majority of the votes amid the opposition protest.
Later, the opposition was allowed to speak on the issue of the bomb blast at the shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar.
Hasan, in a press conference outside the house, demanded that the chief justice of Pakistan take suo motu action over the Sehwan bomb blast.
He further demanded the setting up of a commission to distribute financial compensation to families of victims of the blast, saying he feared such compensation could be distributed among cronies of the ruling party.
The opposition leader said compensation had still not been paid to relatives of victims after last year’s bomb in Shikarpur.
He accused the chief minister of boasting about how he handled emergency and relief efforts after the Sehwan bomb blast, yet victims faced hardship in accessing medical treatment.
Rejecting the chief minister’s claim that the injured were treated at the Sehwan hospital, Hasan said not one was treated there and all were brought to Karachi.
Opposition leaders also accused the ruling party of forcibly changing the loyalties of the MQM workers who were jailed.
They said the inmates of the MQM were harassed so they must defect from the party.