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Incensed by Durrani’s arrest, PPP lashes out at Centre

KARACHI: The provincial government and members of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) have taken strong exception to the arrest of Sindh Assembly Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani in Islamabad by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Wednesday …
The party has decided to challenge the arrest in the court and protest in the upcoming session of the Sindh Assembly, scheduled for February 27.The partys chairperson, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari took to to lash out against the move. Attack on Speaker of federating unit is unacceptable, he tweeted.
Undemocratic attempt to dislodge Sindh govt. Failed before will fail again.Independent institutions shouldnt unwittingly be part of political engineering, he added.His sister, Bakhtawar Bhutto Zardari, also expressed her concern on the micro-blogging platform.Chairman Bilawal was placed on exit control list post his Dec 27 speech and later PTI did a press conference claiming to take over Sindh. There has been no subtlety on what PTI want.Cases and ECL for Sindh chief minister and arrest of speaker, all insult to Pakistan and democracy.The arrestDurrani, who was facing an inquiry relating to the accumulation of assets beyond known sources of income, was arrested by NAB Karachi in Islamabad.
After getting his transit remand, he will be moved to Karachi for further investigation today [Wednesday].This is the first time that a sitting Speaker of a legislative assembly has been arrested in the country.A source privy to the development told The Express Tribune that two other inquiries of corruption and illegal appointments are already pending before the NAB against Durrani. He has been arrested in the assets beyond means inquiry, but the NAB will also look into other inquiries against him, said the source, adding that there has been massive bungling in the construction of MPAs Hostel of the Sindh Assembly and hundreds of people were given jobs in the local government department in violation of the rules when Durrani was minister of the department from 2008 to 2013.
Sindh govts stanceAccording to the Sindh government, the Speaker is the custodian of the House representing 168 MPAs elected from various constituencies of the province. Therefore, he [Durrani] cannot be arrested merely on the basis of an inquiry.
But the NAB officials were of the view that the arrest came after Durrani did not present himself before the inquiry committee, even after being issued three notices.Soon after news of his arrest, PPP ministers held a press conference, where they alleged that there were separate sets of laws operational one for the PPP and another for the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and its allies.Barrister Murtaza Wahab, who was flanked by provincial ministers, including Syed Awais Shah and Shabbir Khan Bajarani, referred to the Constitution and said, The arrest of Speaker Durrani was a breach of Article 25 of the Constitution under which all citizens are equal and entitled to equal protection before the law. No reference or case is registered against him.He is innocent until proven guilty, he said.Quoting inquiries against incumbent Prime Minister Imran Khan and his cabinet members, including the National Assembly speaker and Punjab Assembly speaker, Barrister Wahab said, None of them have been arrested.
On the contrary, they are enjoying all perks and privileges and full protocol.Transport Minister Owais Shah called Durrani a custodian of the Sindh Assembly elected by 99 MPAs.The NAB has breached the privilege of the Sindh Assembly. We will protest it on all forums, he said.We are not against the accountability process, but want to know why such actions are not being taken against opposition parties [in Sindh Assembly], he said, adding that they will devise a strategy on it soon.The PPP ministers were of the opinion that the people of Sindh were being victimized as they had voted for PPP, but the PTI would not succeed in its nefarious designs.
Later in the evening, the PPP leaders gathered at the Chief Minister House to devise a strategy in light of Durranis arrest. The meeting decided to approach the court against the move as well as take up the matter in the upcoming session of the provincial assembly.
PTI demands resignationOn the other hand, the PTIs Sindh lawmakers demanded the resignation of the Speaker, given his involvement in corruption cases. MPA Khurrum Sher Zaman, who is also the partys city chief said, Agha Siraj Durrani has lost the moral authority to remain on the seat.
He himself should resign.Zaman added that all the local bodies ministers, who had ruled Sindh in the past, were on the NABs radar.
Corruption will end in Pakistan, he said. Referring to the resignations of PTI lawmakers Aleem Khan, Babar Awan and Azam Swati, Zaman called on the PPP to follow the PTIs example and replace the speaker.Sindh Assembly sessionThe Sindh Assembly session has been summoned for February 27. According to officials, under the prevalent circumstances, the deputy speaker, Rehana Leghari, will chair the session.If the speaker is on leave or absent for some reasons the deputy speaker will work as the acting speaker, the Sindh Assembly Secretary told The Express Tribune, while referring to Article 30 of the Constitution.  The acting speaker can issue his production order to attend the session, said the secretary.When asked who would chair the session if Durrani came to the Assembly, he said, He is the speaker and will preside over the session whenever he is in the Assembly. st, 2019.

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