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November 9, 2019

Parliament continues to sizzle for another day

Top Story

November 9, 2019

ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly Friday witnessed pandemonium, as Defence Minister Pervaiz Khattak and PML-N parliamentary leader Khawaja Asif flung barbs at each other for threatening democracy and undermining the supremacy of Parliament.

As the top leaders indulged in a slanging match, members from the both sides also jumped in exchanging harsh remarks without using the mike. JUI-F leader and Fazlur Rehman’s Asad Mahmood challenged Ali Amin Gandapur to immediately resign from his seat and contest election afresh.

He also requested the NA speaker to give mike to Mr. Gandapur so that he could announce his resignation. In response, Gandapur said he would contest election against Fazlur Rehman if he ended his sit-in and apologised to the nation.

Criticising Defence Minister Khattak, Asad said he headed the government negotiating committee and hurling threats at the opposition members did not suit him. He said during the 2014 dharna shalwars [loose trousers] were hung on thefence of Parliament House building, bringing a bad name to Pakistan in the eyes of international community.

At the outset of proceedings, PPP’s Raja Pervaiz Ashraf said what happened in the National Assembly on Thursday during legislation was not even seen in the dictatorial regime of Ziaul Haq.

He complained that the opposition parliamentarians were not even allowed to speak on Thursday. He questioned as to how National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser was included in the government negotiation team.

“By doing so, the office of custodian of the House has been made controversial,” he added. The PPP leader said the behaviour of a government improved or worsened the political atmosphere in the country.

“It is due to the government’s behavior that thousands of people have staged a sit-in Islamabad,” he said. He thanked the speaker for issuing production orders of the opposition leaders but said it was too late, as their poor health had not allowed them to attend the House proceedings. Khattak said the prime minister not only appointed him as the head of government negotiating team, but also gave him the authority to name the committee members and he decided to include the Senate chairman and the National Assembly speaker in the team.

Khattak asked the opposition not to teach him the lessons of Constitution and democracy. Khattak said people had rejected the opposition parties because of their poor performance in the past adding that those who lost 2018 election were not sincere with the Constitution or democracy.

“I will adjourn the House if you do not allow the proceedings to run smoothly,” the Speaker warned the opposition members. However, his warning fell flat. PML-N parliamentary leader Khawaja Asif said it was the darkest day in the parliamentary history of the country on Thursday when wholesale bills were passed by the lower house of Parliament.

He said a person elected with 65,000 fake votes had insulted the Speaker’s seat on which he was sitting on Thursday and the whole House was ashamed when the wholesale legislation was carried out.

“Then the court stay was Haram and it is Halal today. It does not augur well for the House and democracy. Khattak Sb you used to dance on the stage during the sit-in of 2014 and I did not know that you also do so,” he added.

He asked the speaker not to support the ruling party being a member of its negotiating committee rather he should advocate democracy and fair elections.

Kh Asif said Pervaiz Elahi had told him that the government committee members did not have the courage to tell Imran Khan as to what were the opposition parties’ demands. “Such people earn abuses from the opposition for Niazi Sb,” he said.

He asked as to why PM Imran Khan was not willing to give account of foreign funds and funds of Shaukat Khanum Hospital. The opposition members also raised slogans of ‘shame, shame’ when he talked about Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri.

“Whoever is elected fairly will not allow what happened in the House yesterday,” the PML-N parliamentary leader said. Asif said their umpire was not the one that supported Niazi but the Supreme Court.

“The finger did rise but nobody knows whither it went. We will wait for the Supreme Court to raise its finger,” said Kh Asif.

Minister for Communication Murad Saeed said the opposition members on Thursday requested for production orders of their leaders instead of talking about legislation. He said the opposition leaders complaining against the speaker must know that they also used to hold their party meetings at the then speaker’s house.

He said the way Prime Minister Imran Khan fought the case of Islam in the United Nations had made the whole nation proud.

Speaker Asad Qaisar assured the House that there would be no change of even a single word with regard to Khatam-e-Nabuwwat (SAW) and the sanctity of Holy Prophet (SAW. “Neither we nor our future generations will compromise on these issues of our faith,” he assured.

Meanwhile, Leader of the House in the Senate Syed Shibli Faraz Friday accused the opposition parties of resorting to agitation to defend their leaders’ corruption, having nothing do with democracy or the state institutions and masses.

This provoked the opposition senators, particularly of the PPP, who demanded that Shibli took back his remarks that both the PPP and PML-N had sworn allegiance at the hands of JUI-F chief Fazlur Rehman by joining the Azadi March.

The opposition senators alleged that the government had drawn a line … those who belonged to it or were its allies were untouchable, while those who were on the other side would face political victimisation that was not witnessed even during the military dictators’ rule.

They also alleged that ex-senator Hafiz Hamdullah’s citizenship was revoked only to punish him for his effective criticism of the government on TV channels.

“The PPP has buried the ideology of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto and accepted Fazl’s philosophy,” Senator Shibli said in response to a speech by the JUI-F senator Maulana Faiz Muhammad.

Faiz passed certain remarks against Prime Minister Imran Khan, which were expunged by Chairman Muhammad Sadiq Sanjrani. Shibli termed his remarks inflammatory and disturbing. The senator declined to withdraw his remarks and alleged that it were the PPP and PML-N governments, which had ruined the state institutions and economy.

He gave the instance of Karkey case, which was filed due to the past rulers’ incompetence and said it was Prime Minister Imran Khan who saved Pakistan’s precious $1.2 billion that, otherwise, would have been paid to the firm.

The PPP senators were first to walk out of the House, followed by the other opposition members when Leader of Opposition Raja Muhammad Zafarul Haq’s demand for withdrawal of remarks was not fulfilled.

It was interesting to note that the PPP Senator Maula Bakhsh Chandio returned to the House to point out lack of quorum while it was the joint opposition, which had requisitioned the session.

The chair called for ringing bells for five minutes. After finding that that only seven senators were present in the House, the proceedings were adjourned till Monday afternoon.

Earlier, Leader of the House asked the opposition why they had not amended the NAB law during their tenures if it was a black one.

He also clarified that the cases against the opposition leaders had not been filed by the PTI government and the arrests had not made on its orders. He alleged that the JUI-F chief Fazl had used Islam for his political motives.

He said the PTI-led government was committed to eradicating corruption, adding that accountability was imperative for the country’s development. In their speeches, the opposition members castigated the government for wasting its energies on how to contain the opposition instead of fulfilling its promises.

They also slammed the government for resorting to promulgation of ordinances, undermining Parliament. PPP parliamentary leader Senator Sherry Rehman termed the government’s bid of passing ordinances ‘ordinance-gardi and said, “Only the government’s ordinance factory is working in full swing in the country right now, while all other businesses are shutting down due to its disastrous economic management. None of these ordinances are being laid in the Upper House because the government is quite evidently intimidated by the opposition’s majority there”.

She pointed out that the National Assembly on Thursday was stripped of all rights to debate bills, bypassing standing committees and rules of procedures.

“Ordinances are being laid in the National Assembly but not being brought to the Senate. Eleven ordinances were passed within a matter of minutes denying debate. It indeed is a black day for Parliament when controversial laws like the Medical Tribunal Bill and Medical Commission Ordinance are bulldozed through the National Assembly along several others,” she noted.

JI Senator Sirajul Haq was the first to take part on alleged political victimisation of the opposition and denial of fundamental rights.

He noted that the most important pillars of the State of Madina were dispensation of justice to all without discrimination and the rule of law, which was missing from Pakistan.

He welcomed what he called the ISPR’s statement on political issues and said this was not done in the past and partiality was shown.

“Had the majority been accepted, there would have been no Bangladesh today. During the PTI rule, Kashmir fall has happened and the government remains indifferent to it,” he charged.

National Party’s Mir Tahir Bizenjo alleged that the government’s vindictive policies was impacting economy and politics.

He noted that the opposition leaders had been jailed on the basis of allegations and named Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Rana Sanaullah in this regard.

“If this is the criterion, then Defence Minister Pervaiz Khattak and KP Chief Minister Mahmood Khan should have been in jail as well,” he said. Senator Mir Kabeer Muhammad Shahi of National Party proposed that the prime minister should not stigmatise the opposition abroad through his speeches.