NA Speaker Asad Qaiser postpones session thrice in a day over unruly behavior from lawmakers
Leader of the Opposition in National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif for the third time on Wednesday failed to deliver his budget speech in the National Assembly — despite being surrounded by the sergeants-at-arms — as lawmakers continued to create a ruckus in the house.
Shahbaz tried completing his speech on the federal budget multiple times but was unsuccessful as treasury members continued to disrupt him, despite NA Speaker Asad Qaiser's repeated warnings and directives to maintain order in the house.
There were three attempts made by the speaker to conduct proceedings, with the session put into recess twice, before finally being put off for a third time in the day.
Speaker Qaiser, before going for the first recess, called that June 15 events as unfortunate, adding that he would not continue the session until the lawmakers sorted out their differences.
"Action has been taken against lawmakers who had used indecent language in the house on June 15 [...] a parliamentary committee will be formed to probe the matter further," he said.
The committee will comprise of six members each from the treasury and Opposition benches, the speaker announced, before he delayed the session for the first time as lawmakers continued to disrupt Shahhaz's speech.
After 15 minutes, the session resumed and Shahbaz spoke for a while, slamming Prime Minister Imran Khan for "ordering lawmakers to use indecent language" in the NA.
As he delivered his address, the treasury benches started to hurl abuse at him, with the speaker repeatedly asking them to maintain decorum in the house.
Yesterday's proceedings in the NA were one of the "darkest days" in Pakistan, Shahbaz said, adding he could not repeat the words that the members from the treasury benches had uttered.
"Mr Speaker, it was your duty to maintain order and prevent such an incident from happening [...] even today they haven't stopped," he said.
While the PML-N president leader was speaking, an Opposition member threw a "full bottle" at the treasury benches, Federal Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar said, adding that it hit and injured Akram Cheema.
The speaker asked the sergeants to show the door to the rowdy member throwing bottles and other missiles towards Shahbaz and postponed the session.
When the session resumed for a second time, the chaos did too.
As it became apparent the uproar has no signs of letting up, the speaker postponed the proceedings for the day.
"We will not resume the session today until we arrive at an understanding on how it is we wish to proceed," he said.
Opposition to move no-confidence motion against speaker
The Opposition, earlier in the day according to sources, decided to jointly move a no-confidence motion against NA Speaker Qaiser, after two days of ruckus in the Lower House.
The development came during a meeting of Opposition party leaders in Islamabad, where they decided to form a committee that would draft a plan of action to move the no-confidence motion.
Yesterday's proceedings in the NA marked the "darkest day for democracy in Pakistan's history," the Opposition leaders observed, according to the sources.
"The Speaker has failed to fulfil his constitutional, legal, democratic, and parliamentary responsibilities [...] he is the protector of every parliament member, but [he has failed in his duties] and is not qualified to hold office anymore," they said.
What happened in NA?
On Tuesday, the NA proceedings witnessed humiliating scenes when the ministers and parliamentarians were seen creating a ruckus, using filthy language, whistling, and attacking each other with budget books during the speech of the Opposition Leader in NA Shahbaz Sharif on the federal budget.
During the uproar, one of the members from the treasury benches threw a book towards Shahbaz, which fell on the dais in front of him. The members from two sides came close to a physical brawl in front of the NA Speaker’s chair, but he could do nothing except for making requests and suspending proceedings time and again.
The security staff of the NA made a protective circle around the Opposition leader and pushed back the government members, who were trying to move towards him.
Opposition members also encircled Shahbaz Sharif to prevent him from any attack.
In the meantime, one of the security staffers, Asif Kiani, was slightly injured when a book hit him close to his eye.
A video showing Ali Nawaz Awan of the PTI abusing an opponent also went viral on social media. However, the PTI member said it was Shaikh Rohail Asghar of the PMLN who used abusive language first.
7 lawmakers banned from NA for 'disorderly conduct'
Following the incident, the NA Speaker Qaiser imposed a ban on seven lawmakers, preventing them from entering the Parliament House until further notice.
The notice said these lawmakers' conduct was “grossly disorderly” during the speech of Opposition Leader Shehbaz Sharif.
Three members from the ruling PTI and four opposition members — three from PML-N and one from PPP — have been found to have “violated” the rules despite the “repeated direction” of the speaker.
“Therefore, I order for withdrawal of aforesaid Members from the precincts of the National Assembly immediately. These members are required not to enter into the precincts of the Parliament House till further orders,” the statement released by the Speaker stated.
The lawmakers who are barred from the assembly include Ali Gohar Khan (PML-N), Chaudhary Hamid Hameed (PML-N), Sheikh Rohale Asghar (PML-N) Faheem Khan (PTI), Abdul Majeed Khan (PTI), Ali Nawaz Awan (PTI), and Syed Agha Rafiullah (PPP).
The action was taken after a meeting of Asad Qaiser with Prime Minister Imran Khan during which the NA situation was discussed.