Word ‘rural’ ticks off MQM; text amended

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A brief but heated argument took place in the Sindh Assembly on Tuesday when Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) lawmakers introduced a resolution, which its coalition partner, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), believed carried wording based on a rural-urban divide.
“This Assembly resolves and recommends to the Government of Sindh to ensure that [the] Karachi University establishes at least two campuses in [the] rural districts of Sindh,” read the draft tabled out-of-turn by PPP’s Dr Ahmed Ali Shah.
 Commenting on the resolution, Dr Shah said the University of Karachi was so congested that it denies admission to many students from the interior parts of Sindh. The MPA said setting up new KU campuses would attract the people of the province towards higher education.
His party fellows Bachal Shah and Dr Sattar Rajpar were quick to back the resolution.
But the word “rural” did not go down well with their coalition partner and the MQM’s parliamentary leader Sardar Ahmed opposed the resolution saying the party does not believe in a rural-urban divide and the draft would open a Pandora’s Box.
Health Minister Dr Sagheer Ahmed said the impression that in Karachi, the doors of education for students from interior Sindh are closed, is wrong.
“Despite doing everything for this province, we are being accused of such things. Please get these words expunged from the assembly’s record,” the MQM lawmaker demanded.  He said it is well-known as to which party has the public’s mandate in Karachi. “We are a coalition party,” he reminded the PPP legislators.
Dr Sagheer said he was opposed to the wording, and not the resolution itself.
Senior Education Minister Pir Mazharul Haq reminded the House that passing a resolution will not make the universities act accordingly, as this is only possible by amending their respective acts.
The situation, however, was defused when Speaker Nisar Khuhro asked for an amended resolution, which he read later on, with the word “rural” replaced with the names of two districts, Naushehro Feroze and Tharparkar.
Earlier, Law Minister Ayaz Soomro and Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid lawmaker Shehryar Maher exchanged barbs when the former criticised the latter, National People’s Party’s Arif Jatoi and Pakistan Muslim League-Functional’s Jam Madad Ali for their media statements against him.
Soomro said these lawmakers, who are part of a special committee, violated assembly rules when they made public the proceedings of the body’s meetings.
The speaker intervened and concluded the debate by saying revealing the matters discussed during the committee’s meetings should not have been leaked to the press as this leaves a negative impression.
Irrigation Minister Jam Saifullah Dharejo responded to supplementary queries of the members during the question hour.
 The speaker prorogued the House for an indefinite period, but asked lawmakers to stay for a detailed briefing by the Joint Investigation Team and Interior Minister Rehman Malik that lasted for almost two hours.