Stray dogs haunt legislators

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The security of legislature and legislators is in jeopardy on the premises of old and newly-constructed Sindh Assembly building.

As the PPP-dominated provincial assembly is in session from Monday to legislate primarily on local government system that would pave the way for local body polls in line with the supreme court’s recent order, the country’s historical legislature is dominated by stray dogs which, the secretariat officials say, are “more than a dozen” in number.

While their higher ups tend to play down the “potentially dangerous” issue, the assembly staffers warn of serious consequences if these dogs ever bite any of 194 provincial lawmakers, including a sufficient number of females. “These dogs, God forbid, can cause serious diseases like rabies,” apprehended a staffer.

Rabies is a contagious and fatal viral disease of dogs and other mammals that gets transmitted through saliva to humans and cause madness and convulsions.

In recent days, the animals have frequently been confronting the lawmakers. It was just Tuesday when Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah, leader of the house, witnessed a dog crossing his way to the new assembly hall, said a security official.

No exception is the custodian of Sindh Assembly, Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani, who an insider said, was haunted by these stray dogs at least twice. “All of a sudden, a dog confronted the speaker while he was entering the lift,” an eyewitness said.

More worrisome, however, is the fact that these wild animals also adversely affect the all-important security arrangements the security agencies carry out at the country’s oldest legislature before and during sessions.

According to officials’ sources, the security measures include the use of sniffer dogs that the Bomb Disposal Squad (BDS) uses to detect a planted bomb at the assembly premises. “These stray dogs when confronted bark on the sniffer dogs who in return respond accordingly,” they said.

Quoting the BDS personnel, the sources said the sniffer dogs get distracted by these stray dogs. “This distraction can eventuate into a serious security lapse,” the BDS officials were quoted. “How do these animals enter into the heavily guarded Assembly building?”

“They are more than a dozen in number and can be found in small groups all over the secretariat. These dogs enter the premises from the assembly’s back doors where construction work is going on and the barriers, like grills etc, are wider enough to let them climb in,” said the insider.

The high-ups at Assembly Secretariat are claimed to never have heeded to this “dangerous” issue with some rather posing as animal rights activists. “Why to attract the ire of heavens by killing these poor animals,” an officer once exclaimed. Tuesday’s confrontation of the chief minister with a stray dog, however, seems to have made the secretariat officials sense gravity of the situation.

The Assembly Secretariat is said to have written to the Karachi Municipal Corporation (KMC) to start a crackdown against these dogs.

Addressing Administrator Saddar Town Mohammad Raeesi, the Secretariat, in a letter, has requested the former to “eliminate” the dogs whose “existence keep creating problems for the assembly staff every now and then”. “For sometime now stray dogs have increased in number at the Assembly Building,” the letter reads.

The administrator has been asked to “do the needful to rid the august Assembly of these stray dogs”.

Despite repeated attempts by this reporter, Sindh Assembly Secretary Ghulam Umer Farooq was not available for his comments. “Assembly is a place where high profile people keep moving. Anything can happen anytime, if these animals have been left unattended,” warned a security personnel at the Secretariat.

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