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February 10, 2015

Lawmakers stunned as KP Assembly sitting postponed hours before start


February 10, 2015

PESHAWAR: The lack of interest by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) in running the Khyber Pakh-tunkhwa Assembly peaked Monday when Speaker Asad Qaiser notified postponement of the sitting just hours before its start.
The sudden and unexpected postponement of the assembly meeting left many lawmakers and journalists stunned as several had turned up at the premises for the session.The speaker had also adjourned the sitting unceremoniously on Friday last to disallow members of the PTI’s so-called ‘likeminded group’ to speak against the government. It had resumed after a long 23-day break.
No solid reason was given for the postponement of the meeting, now scheduled for February 16. “We were told by phone at 12 noon that the speaker has a meeting in Islamabad and the sitting has been postponed,” said Syed Jafar Shah, a lawmaker from the Awami National Party.
“Several MPAs had arrived at the assembly to attend the meeting,” he said, indicating how much late they were informed about the postponement. The meeting was scheduled at 2pm Monday.
The media was even not informed about the rescheduled sitting. Several journalists discovered about the postponement of the sitting after finding the assembly gates closed. The opposition lawmakers said the postponement of the meeting the day it was scheduled t be held exposed the government’s seriousness in running the province’s legislature. “This shows the government’s casual attitude vis-à-vis the assembly,” said Qaumi Watan Party’s female lawmaker Anisa Zeb Tahirkheli. “The speaker has the powers but I think he has to understand the parliamentary norms,” she remarked.
Several lawmakers believed the meeting was put off to stave off confrontation with the infuriated members of the ‘likeminded group’. Differences popped up once again between the PTI and this group of unhappy lawmakers just weeks before the Senate elections.
“I think they postponed the meeting due to the likeminded

group,” ANP’s Jafar Shah said.Anisa Zeb Tahirkheli said the government didn’t want to face internal pressure from the ‘likeminded group’ and deferred the meeting under pressure.
PML-N’s Sardar Aurangzeb Nalotha said the PTI’s ‘likeminded group’ would have created the worst kind of rumpus in the House had the speaker not postponed the meeting.The disgruntled MPAs who were embarrassed on Fridaylast when the speaker adjourned the meeting instead of giving them the floor.
They later vented their anger through the media and spoke about the alleged corruption of several ministers. They were not happy with the speaker for dodging them when they wanted to speak on the floor of the House.
The opposition lawmakers severely criticised the speaker and accused him of being biased in favour of the government.Aurangzeb Nalotha described him partial and “pawn in the hands of the government.” “He always comes to the rescue of the government that shows he is partial. For how long he would be saving it?” he said.
Anisa Zeb accused the speaker of breach of trust. She said when he gave assurances to the members of the ‘likeminded group’ to give them the opportunity to speak he should not have adjourned the session without giving them the floor.
The lawmakers claimed it was the first time in the history of the assembly that the sitting was postponed in this fashion. They said the parliamentary traditions were violated which was unfortunate and deplorable. They said they would take up the issue in the House and before the media.
The speaker postponed the sitting under rule 21 of the Rules of Procedure. Rule 21 says, (a) the speaker may adjourn a sitting of the assembly; and (b) if he so thinks fit, call a sitting of the assembly at a time and date different from that to which it was earlier adjourned Speaker Asad Qaiser was not available for comments. Information Minister Mushtaq Ghani did not respond to calls to offer government’s version.

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