KARACHI - Provincial lawmakers from the ruling PPP have asked PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif to tender an apology for “framing” slain former PPP chairperson Benazir Bhutto and President Asif Ali Zardari during his tenure(s) as the country’s premier.

This demand was renewed during the Sindh Assembly Monday’s proceedings, when the House adopted a resolution jointly tabled by legislators of the PPP, MQM, ANP and PML-F last Friday.

Following the question-hour session, MPAs, while making speeches on the resolution, paid rich tribute to Benazir Bhutto. They asserted that the martyred prime minister was their “political mentor” and under her able leadership, they learned different dimensions of politics.

“Led by Benazir Bhutto, the PPP did make a history of achievements, including the restoration of democracy in the country,” they said, and called her a leader of international stature and the champion of democracy and human rights.

In his brief address, Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah tapped into the history of struggle Benazir Bhutto initiated after the “assassination” of her father, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.

“It was not an easy job to resist the dictatorial regime of General Ziaul Haq, when many top PPP leaders went underground and did not favour a protest campaign against the despot immediately after the execution of ZAB.”

No-one was willing to support or join hands with Benazir Bhutto and her (late) mother, Begum Nusrat Bhutto, in their struggle for the restoration of democracy, the chief minister recalled while adding that “the army-led government arrested her and kept her in a Sukkur penitentiary for two months, where she was treated ruthlessly, with no facility available to her”.

Presenting a brief account of the correspondence between Benazir Bhutto and ZAB, the chief minister said that in his messages from the death cell, the first democratically-elected premier asked his daughter not to seek a pardon from the Zia government, rather go to the public. “ZAB knew that the despot would hang him,” concluded the chief minister in a sobbing voice.

Earlier, PPP’s Dr Ahmed Ali Shah lauded the efforts of the former party chairperson, and questioned his leadership whether the ruling PPP was pursuing the mission of its slain chief. He also questioned when would be her assassins arrested.

Sindh Home Minister Manzoor Hussain Wassan explained to the House that how Benazir Bhutto had managed to reach Sukkur Jail in 1991-92 to meet her imprisoned party members. “Clad in a burqa, she told the jail administration that she was the sister of Manzoor Wassan and insisted on meeting them. Initially, we wondered who this woman was,” he added.

Sindh Minister for Culture Sassui Palijo, who is writing her first book on “Bhutto’s Trial”, said that the establishment had always targeted the PPP because it had strong roots in the masses.

Minister for Local Governments, Agha Siraj Durrani, came down hard on the PML-N leadership, saying that today Nawaz Sharif was stating in public gatherings that he would arrest the killers of Benazir Bhutto.

“I regret to say that all fake cases instituted against the slain leader were during Nawaz Shairf’s stint as the country prime minister.”

Durrani demanded the PML-N chief to tender a public apology for framing Benazir Bhutto and her spouse, President Zardari. “These people (PML-N leaders), who lodged fake cases against Benazir, were now hatching conspiracies against the government of her party,” he said, and warned that their conspiracies would be foiled by the masses.

Another PPP lawmaker, Imdad Ali Pitafi, said that once again conspiracies were being hatched to push the PPP towards the wall. He construed these conspiracies against the PPP as a “plot against Pakistan”. He further said that Pakistan was made by a Sindhi, it was saved by a Sindhi, and now a Sindh would protect the federation.

Other lawmakers Haji Muzafar Shujra, Makhdoom Jamilul Zaman, Sattar Rajpur of the PPP, Shoaib Bokhari, Zareen Majeed and Bilqees Mukhtiar of the MQM also expressed similar views in their speeches on the resolution.

Meanwhile, the House passed the “Sindh Motion Pictures Bill 2011”. The bill aims to regulate the censorship and screening of films by the provincial government. It may be mentioned here that the very subject was devolved to the federating units after the passage of the 18th Amendment.

Speaking about the bill, Sassui Palijo said the government would constitute a board for examining and certifying films, to be exhibited. “The censor board will approve a flick after watching and examining its contents,” she added.

Earlier, speaking on a point of order, MQM’s Heer Ismail Soho raised the issue of gas shortage in Sindh. She said that there was a severe shortage of natural gas in the province, despite the fact that Sindh generated 70 per cent of the country’s total gas. “This assembly has already passed a resolution to give priority to Sindh in terms of gas consumption, but nothing has happened so far,” she said.

Meanwhile, no lawmaker raised voice against the fresh hike in prices of petroleum products.

Later, Speaker Nisar Khuhro adjourned the session until Tuesday (today).