The budget session in the Sindh Assembly on Tuesday was marred by chaos and uproar, as lawmakers belonging to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and the ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) brawled on the floor of the House, leading to disruption in the proceedings.
The situation took an unpleasant turn after acting Speaker Rehana Leghari allowed Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah to present the budget for fiscal year 2022-23, while PTI members gathered in front of the speaker’s rostrum, chanting slogans against the government and terming the budget “imported”. PPP’s Kulsoom Chandio and PTI’s Dua Bhutto got physical, as they were seen pushing each other before being separated by fellow parliamentarians.
The House echoed with slogans of “imported hukumat na manzoor” (imported government unacceptable) by the PTI members. However, the provincial chief executive turned a deaf ear to the noisy protest and continued reading his budget speech, as he presented Rs1.714 trillion tax-free budget for financial year 2022-23, according to state-run APP news agency. On the other hand, members of the provincial assembly (MPAs) belonging to the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan and the Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) distanced themselves from the PTI-led protest.
The repeated warnings from the acting speaker to protesting lawmakers went unheeded, as the ruckus continued throughout the chief minister’s speech. Leghari also warned of disciplinary proceedings against Dua Bhutto for using her mobile phone during the proceedings, but in vain. “Use of mobile phones is not allowed in the House. I warn you people to desist from using your phones here,” Leghari told the protesting legislators.
The situation got worse when PPP members, including Information Minister Sharjeel Inam Memon, Imdad Pitafi and Mumtaz Jakhrani asked PTI lawmakers to move away from the chief minister’s seat as the latter delivered his speech. In their bid to move the PTI members from the treasury benches, Jakhrani tore up some placards carried by PTI legislators and tossed them at the opposition benches. Jakhrani and the PTI’s Shahnawaz Jadoon also threw budget books at each other, forcing other legislators to separate the charged MPAs. Female lawmakers of the opposing parties also indulged in a brawl after the session was adjourned, as PPP lawmaker Kulsoom Chandio attempted to snatch a mobile phone from PTI’s Dua Bhutto for filming the protest.
Later, TV footage confirmed that Kulsoom Chandio and Munawwar Wassan forcibly took the phone from the PTI lawmaker.
The PTI MPAs then approached a nearby police station to lodge a First Information Report against the alleged snatching of Dua Bhutto’s cellphone. However, no case was registered, as PTI MPAs claimed that the SHO was not present at the police station. Chandio, in a video message hours after the session, claimed that the PTI members had actually “snatched” her mobile phone after the session was adjourned.