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August 31, 2019

Treasury member’s remarks trigger rumpus in KP Assembly


August 31, 2019

PESHAWAR: Following exchange of harsh words between the treasury and opposition lawmakers in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly, the joint opposition boycotted the march held on the call of Prime Minister Imran Khan to express solidarity with the people of Jammu and Kashmir here on Friday.

The opposition lawmakers did not participate in the march organised on Khyber Road and led by Governor Shah Farman, Chief Minister Mahmood Khan and Speaker Mushtaq Ahmad Ghani.

Earlier when the assembly session started about 45 minutes behind the schedule, Speaker Mushtaq Ghani announced that all the members would march on the Khyber Road at 12 noon.

Humera Khatoon of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) on a call attention called for boycott of Indian products and cable TV programmes.

However, Advisor to Chief Minister on Education Ziaullah Bangash said there was already a boycott of Indian products.

After passing the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Judicial Academy (Amendment) Bill, 2019, Nighat Orakzai of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) on a point of order complained that her party was being ignored and was not given representation in the Kashmir Solidarity Committee.

“The chief minister has been passing remarks against Asif Ali Zardari and Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. The PPP members should not be compelled to reply to him,” she warned.

She recalled that it was late Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto who signed the Shimla Accord and secured the release of over 90,000 Pakistan Army soldiers imprisoned in Indian jails.

She lamented the way former President Asif Zardari was taken to hospital and termed it shameful. She warned of protest if Federal Minister for Interior Ijaz Shah did not refrain from using threatening language. In reply to her remarks, Ziaullah Bangash said courts were independent and the prime minister and interior minister were not interfering in judicial matters. He added that those who have committed corruption would have to face the music. Parliamentary leader of Awami National Party (ANP) Sardar Hussain Babak said the government should not do solo flight, but seek support of all the political forces.

“We have reservations over the government policy. The nation is being terrorized by creating a war-like situation. We have a principled stance and will not participate in the protest on the prime minister’s call,” he explained. However, the Speaker asked the opposition MPAs to join the march as it was not for Imran Khan, but would give a positive message to the world that Pakistanis were united in showing solidarity with the people of Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir.

At this stage, Sardar Hussain Babak sought 10 minutes time for consultation with party leaders on the issue.

Sardar Aurangzeb Nalotha of Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) said the nation was united on Kashmir issue and had unanimously condemned Indian atrocities in Jammu and Kashmir.

He said the prime minister should have taken the opposition into confidence. “Unfortunately, Maryam Nawaz was arrested when she was going to address a Kashmir solidarity rally,” he pointed out.

An emotional speech of Special Assistant to Chief Minister on Information Technology, Kamran Bangash led to a rumpus in the House when he said the government did not need the opposition’s support as it has a large number of MPAs to participate in the march.

He said the opposition was seeking excuses and misleading the people on Kashmir issue.

The opposition had kept a mum when the prime minister asked whether Pakistan should go to war with India. “The opposition should have told him to attack India,” he remarked.

The opposition members shouted “attack, attack”, prompting the Speaker to adjourn the session till September 16.

The treasury members then walked out of the assembly premises to the Khyber Road to stage the macrh. The governor and chief minister joined the rally while the opposition members stayed away from it.

Later, addressing a press conference at the opposition chamber, leaders of the joint opposition accused the prime minister of making a deal on Kashmir. They said the government was intentionally creating rifts to divide the nation and divert attention from the Kashmir issue. They said that instead of forging unity the government opted for solo flight and did not take into confidence leaders of the opposition in the Senate, National Assembly and provincial assemblies.

The opposition leaders including Sardar Hussain Babak of the ANP, PPP’s Sher Azam Wazir, PML-N’s Sardar Aurangzeb Nalotha, JUI-F’s Zafar Azam and JI’s Inayatullah Khan said all political parties were united on the Kashmir issue and they have condemned the Indian atrocities in held Kashmir. They argued that the government did not take the opposition into confidence and intentionally opted for solo flight to weaken Pakistan’s stance on the Kashmir issue. “We stand by the Kashmiris and would continue to raise voice for their rights on all forums,” they resolved. They said the wrong policies of the government provided India an opportunity to abolish the special status of Jammu and Kashmir. Zafar Azam said the government was staging a drama after making a deal on Kashmir. He said it was feared Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Imran Khan might stage another drama to divert attention from the repealing of Article 370 and 35-A.