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February 25, 2020

Uproar again mars KP Assembly proceedings

Top Story

February 25, 2020

PESHAWAR: Uproar again marred the proceedings of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly on the fourth consecutive day on Monday as the government and opposition lawmakers refused to budge from their stated positions.

Before the start of the session, Minister for Information Shaukat Yousufzai and Minister for Food Qalandar Lodhi approached Sardar Hussain Babak of the Awami National Party (ANP) and other members of the joint opposition for talks as opposition leader Akram Khan Durrani was not present at the time. Subsequently, the joint opposition was discussing its strategy in the lobby while the assembly Speaker Mushtaq Ahmad Ghani continued with the proceedings as per agenda.

The speaker announced the questions which lapsed one by one in the absence of the opposition MPAs. As the session continued, the House adopted the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Finance (amendment) Bill, 2020, the KP Universities (second amendment) Bill, 2020, the Galiyat Development Authority (amendment) Bill, 2020 and the KP Land Acquisition (amendment) Bill, 2020. The amendments introduced by the opposition members were considered as withdrawn.

The opposition entered the House and turned to the podium when the last bill was put to a vote and started shouting ‘No’ No. They circled the speaker’s dais and chanted slogans against him, but he continued the proceedings amid shouting and noise.

Some of the opposition members blew whistles and made noise. The security officer tried to snatch the mike but the protesting opposition legislators refused to hand it over to him. The speaker said such gadgets should not be allowed and the security staff must ensure such tools are not brought to the House. The treasury benches responded in the same coin and accused the opposition of deliberately disturbing the assembly proceedings.

Both the government and opposition blamed each other for being not serious about running the assembly affairs and hold serious negotiations. Concluding the agenda, the speaker adjourned the sitting for today (Tuesday) at 2 pm. Later, Sardar Hussain Babak told the media that they wanted to hold talks with the government and had accepted Shaukat Yousufzai and Qalandar Lodhi’s offer of negotiation. “Instead of holding serious talks, they dodged the opposition and passed the bills taking advantage of our absence,” he alleged.

He ruled out further talks with the treasury benches, saying the ruling party members were exploiting the situation in their favour. “We accepted the ministers’ offer and convinced the opposition parties to agree to hold talks with the government despite the absence of opposition leader. But the speaker and PTI lawmakers did not wait for the outcome of the negotiations and rather exploited the opposition absence to expedite the legislation. Our protest is against the speaker for his partial role,” he added.

Sardar Hussain Babak, who was elected from Buner, warned the security staff against taking any action and said they were employees of the assembly not of any person. He said they would be held answerable for taking action against any member of the opposition on the speaker’s directives. Nighat Orakzai of the Pakistan People’s Party also accused the government of dodging the opposition and engaging them in talks to pass the bills in their absence.

She said the opposition no more trusted the government and would not hold talks with it. The government betrayed the opposition to pass the legislation without accommodating their amendments, she added.