NA resounds with Khursheed Shah’s threat to Centre over water share

ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly resonated with the demand for fair distribution of water among the provinces, as Leader of the Opposition Syed Khursheed Shah threatened the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz that the people of Sindh might have to close the province’s border and cut it from the rest of the country if it would continue to be denied its due water share.
“The whole Sindh is being turned into a desert because of acute water scarcity,” said Mr Shah while drawing attention of the house towards the issue of acute water shortage being faced by the province.
He accused the Punjab government of using Sindh’s share of water by opening two link canals and criticised the Muttahida Qaumi Movement for not raising the issue despite the fact that Karachi being the capital of Sindh was also facing water scarcity.
Before staging a walkout along with other lawmakers of the Pakistan Peoples Party, Mr Shah said his party was lodging protest against the federal government so that the people of Sindh could get their due share of water but the MQM instead of raising this issue was protesting over the Sindh chief minister’s remarks against those demanding a “separate Karachi province”.

Earlier, the MQM staged a token walkout against Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah for saying on the floor of the provincial assembly “I curse all those who call for a separate Karachi province in Sindh”.
Before staging the walkout, MQM leader Dr Farooq Sattar said his party had not demanded a separate province but there was nothing wrong if Karachi was made a separate province.
“I too curse those who talked about a separate province in Sindh, but this is the fact that MQM has not made any such demand,” said Dr Sattar.
“Now it is the responsibility of PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari to condemn the chief minister’s remarks,” he said, while threatening the Sindh government of street protests if the PPP leadership did not condemn the statement.
“I will not come between the people of Karachi and you,” he warned the Sindh government.
Dr Sattar questioned: “Why the people of southern Punjab are not cursed when they demand a separate province in Punjab?”
The MQM protesting lawmakers, however, returned to the house after some time on the request of Law Minister Mehmood Bashir Virk.
At the outset as the house proceedings remained suspended for at least one hour until the quorum was complete, Khursheed Shah criticised the PML-N government and its legislators over incomplete quorum.
“You are facing problems and courts, only because you have not given due respect to the vote and parliament,” Mr Shah said while addressing the treasury benches.
Meanwhile, the interior minister was given a warm welcome as he entered the house for the first time after the recent gun attack on him. In front of the speaker’s rostrum, where lawmakers of both ruling and opposition parties gathered to inquire after his health, Mr Iqbal said only the state had the right to declare Jihad and no individual or group could decide others’ faith.
“The Constitution will decide who is Muslim and who is not. We have to eliminate hatred and purge the society from intolerance,” he said, adding that Islam taught peace and tolerance but those with nefarious design misinterpreted it to spread hatred.
Expressing gratitude to his colleagues and others who had wished him early recovery, the minister particularly mentioned PTI chairman Imran Khan for sending a bouquet to him when he was hospitalised.
But he said he would have been happier if the bouquet had been given to him by PTI legislator Shireen Mazari or Shafqat Mehmood, because the person who had presented him the bouquet also showered the attacker with praise in a talk show.
PTI lawmaker Shafqat Mehmood endorsed Mr Iqbal’s call for tolerance but at the same time criticised him and others holding Iqama while serving as ministers and cabinet members. “It is unethical to get salary from other country while serving as ministers,” he added.
Mr Iqbal claimed that he had never obtained work permit of a driver in Saudi Arab. He said he was honoured by a Madina-based university and awarded Iqama for being a “global leader”. He said a spokesman of a political party had launched negative propaganda against him. He said that party’s spokesman alleged that he held work permit of a driver. “The spokesman should tender apology for misleading the nation,” the interior minister demanded.
Amid heated debates, however, the assembly passed four bills related to the establishment of Pakistan Council for Renewable Energy Technologies (PCRET), Gas Infrastructure Cess Act-2018, Legal Practitioners and Bar Council Act-2018 and Prevention of Women and Children Trafficking Bill.
Later, Deputy Speaker Murtaza Javed Abbasi adjourned the session till Thursday morning.