Protestors baton-charged outside Sindh Assembly as inaugural session set to begin

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KARACHI: The ceremony of newly-elected Sindh Assembly members’ swearing-in on Saturday (today) is set to take place as workers of the Qaumi Awami Tehreek staged protests against alleged rigging in the recently held general elections.

The police also arrested 10 workers of the party including women who were protesting outside the Sindh Assembly. The law enforcement officials also baton-charged the protestors.

The Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA), Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F), Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), PTI and Muhajir Qaumi Movement (MQM-Haqiqi), have announced they will stage a joint peaceful protest outside the Sindh Assembly on the occasion of the inaugural session of the house when the newly elected MPAs will take the oath of their office at 11am.

GDA Secretary Information Sardar Abdul Raheem said that their protest in Sindh was against stealing the people’s mandate, warning that the demonstrations would keep intensifying till their mandate was returned.

The GDA, PTI, JUI-F, MQM-Haqiqi and JI would jointly hold protests outside the assembly, he said adding that a peaceful protest was their right and the government should avoid using force against them.

In the inaugural session, the newly-elected members will take an oath as lawmakers, and then they will elect the House’s speaker under the assembly rules.

The members continue to arrive at the Sindh Assembly including PPP’s chief minister nominee Syed Murad Ali Shah, formerly CM Qaim Ali Shah and PPP leader Faryal Talpur. 

The members include 128 elected on general seats and 35 on reserved seats. However, some members will not take oath for different reasons including a couple of senators who got elected on provincial seats.

Meanwhile, notification for Ameer Jamat-e-Islami (JI) Karachi Hafiz Naeem-ur-Rehman has not been issued after he announced he would be relinquishing his provincial assembly seat, PS-129, and a Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader Abdul Aziz Junejo, elected on PS-80, after he passed away.

MQM-P nominates members for speaker, deputy speaker slots

Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) MPA Syed Waseem said his party nominated Sofia Saeed for the speaker’s slot and Rashid Khan for deputy speaker. He said MQM-P wanted resolution of the province’s issues in coordination with other parties.

He said the political parties should do their party politics but should reduce people’s troubles.

The MQM-P leader said the ones who were defeated in the past levelled allegations of rigging. They should approach the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) if they had evidence of rigging as blocking roads would not benefit them. 

People’s assembly banned

The Sindh government imposed Section 144 in the south zone in anticipation of the protest by the political parties to prevent any harm to security and order.

“… the Government of Sindh, in exercise of the powers conferred under Section 144 (6) Cr.PC, hereby imposes a ban on public assembly, gatherings, protests, processions, and demonstrations in South Zone Karachi Division for a period of 30 days with immediate effect,” stated the provincial government’s notification issued late Friday.

It further notifies, “In pursuance of Section 195 (i) (a) Cr.PC, the S.H.Os of the concerned Police Station are hereby authorised to register complaints under Section 188 PPC in writing for the violation of Section 144 CrPC against the violators of this Notification.”

Meanwhile, Sindh’s interior minister, Brigadier (Retired) Haris Nawaz, said Section 144 is now in effect in the area around the building of the provincial assembly; hence, no marches or protests can be held nearby.

Nawaz stressed that strict security measures have been taken to protect the area around the assembly to ensure a law and order situation. The interior minister issued a stern warning, saying that strict legal actions await those who disrupt peace or engage in unlawful activities.

“Any troublemakers will face consequences,” Nawaz declared, calling for cooperation between the public, the police, and other law enforcement agencies.

Traffic diversion

On the other hand, the arteries leading to the Sindh Assembly have been blocked by placing containers on them. The road leading to Burns Road from the Sindh Assembly has also been blocked with containers.

The vehicular traffic coming from Fawwara Chowk, Sindh Club and Saddar will not go via MR Kiyani Chowk. Traffic police said traffic would be diverted from here towards Awan e Saddar and Khajoor Chowk. The traffic coming from II Chundrigar Road will not be allowed to go towards MR Kiyani Chowk either and will be diverted towards Khajoor Chowk or Pakistan Chowk.

Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Asad Raza South said that the heavy police force has been deployed on Sharea Faisal for security and also around the Sindh Assembly.

He added that the road from Baloch Colony to Metropol is also partially closed.

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