The Sindh Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution on Tuesday, demanding a ban on Sheeshah, but, interestingly, ignored a suggestion from a female member for also banning wine. Sheeshah is an oriental tobacco pipe (hookah with flavoured tobacco) with a long flexible tube connected to a container where the smoke is cooled by passing through water.
The demand for imposing a ban on Sheeshah was made through a private resolution moved by PPP lawmaker Syed Bachal Shah; however, the house ignored the proposal made by PML-F female member Marvi Rashdi for also banning the use of ‘Sheeshi’ (wine). The latter’s suggestion was ignored to the extent that none of the assembly members including Sindh Excise and Taxation Minister Mukesh Kumar Chawla heed to it.
Chawla, during a past session, had himself told the house that despite sale of wine being officially allowed only to ‘minorities’, a majority of Muslims were consuming the drink, prohibited by their religion. On Tuesday, the Excise and Taxation minister, however, went on to say that his department can stop the use of Sheeshah within a month, if the house legislates to empower the department for taking action against it.
“We can start action against Sheesha from this night,” Chawla told the house. Several assembly members, including ministers belonging to the ruling PPP and MQM, delivered speeches in support of the resolution against Sheeshah citing health concerns. Referring to China’s action against narcotics, Shah – the resolution mover – said that the country had killed all addicts after revolution.
However, Local Government Minister Agha Siraj Durani said that Sheeshah is a type of traditional hookah, which is also being used in Shah’s own village. Electric Power Minister Shazia Marri said she did not support the action taken in China but it is an established fact that Sheeshah is far more dangerous for health than cigarettes, having a higher level of carbon mono oxide. She said that smoking Sheeshah has become fashion among youth.
Information Minister Sharjeel Inam Memon said that according to renowned religious scholar Dr Zakir Naek, religious scholars have issued a fatwa (decree) that everything that causes death is haram or forbidden in Islam. However, Marri pointed out that the information minister himself smokes. “If Sheeshah causes brain haemorrhage and unconsciousness, will the minister (Memon) quit smoking?” she added.
Opposition leader Jam Madad Ali, mentioning an area of the city’s posh locality, said that Sheshah is kept on each table at restaurants there. “These restaurants should be closed for the time being as punishment,” he added. “Sheeshah is openly used in Pakistan despite it being an Islamic country.” Health Minister Dr Saghir Ahmed said that the youth can be made aware of the harms of smoking Sheeshah.
Earlier, the house could not discuss an adjournment motion moved by the PML-F lawmaker Marvi Rashdi on the targeted killing in Karachi, as Speaker Nisar Ahmed Khuhro was convinced that the matter is “sub judice.” Marvi had moved it on Monday and the speaker had reserved his ruling. Law Minister Ayaz Soomro informed the speaker that the matter is sub judice and presented a report of the Sindh advocate general, according to which a constitutional petition and a FIR on targeted killings were under proceedings in courts.
The House also passed another resolution moved by the PPP’s Anwar Maher to provide corporation allowance to government employees working in Rohri city and the emaining portion of New Sukkur taluka. The House postponed taking up another resolution moved by the PPP’s Humera Alwani seeking correction in records about the birthplace of Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah and she was asked to rewrite it.
She was of the opinion that the Quaid-e-Azam’s actual birthplace was the town of Jhirk in Thatta district, and not Karachi. However, MQM’s parliamentary leader Sardar Ahmed was of the opinion that there was no need to bring this resolution. He told the House that the personality of the Quaid-e-Azam should not be made controversial.
“The Quaid-e-Azam had himself declared that Karachi was his birthplace while speaking at a programme hosted by Mahmood A Haroon in his honour in 1948 and I can present that speech in the House on Wednesday,” he said.
Wednesday, 11 May 2011