ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser on Wednesday banned seven parliamentarians from attending the House due to their disorderly conduct and for disrupting proceedings on the first two days of budget debate.
The Speaker’s ruling, which was termed by the opposition a one-sided decision, could not ensure smooth start of proceedings of the National Assembly on Wednesday and the chair, after suspending the House twice due to ruckus for third consecutive day, ultimately adjourned it till today (Thursday). The speaker refused to conduct business of the House till the government and opposition sit together and reach an agreement to ensure smooth proceedings of the National Assembly.
The suspended members include Ali Gohar Khan, Chaudhry Hamid Hameed and Sheikh Rohale Asghar from the PMLN, Faheem Khan, Abdul Majeed Khan Niazi and Ali Nawaz Awan from the PTI, and Syed Agha Rafiullah from the PPP.
The speaker’s orders say that on June 14 and 15, during speech of the leader of the opposition, the conduct of these members was grossly disorderly as they violated the rules and despite repeated directions of the chair, they interrupted proceedings of the House.
“Therefore, I order the withdrawal of these members from the precincts of the National Assembly immediately,” the orders said. The speaker’s orders said the members are required not to enter into precincts of the Parliament House till further orders.
The opposition immediately rejected the speaker’s orders, saying that decision of withdrawal MNAs from the National Assembly precincts announced in the media does not even come close to recognising the gravity of these events.
But on Wednesday The House once again witnessed disorderly behaviour of members when the speaker observed that an object had been thrown by a member towards the opponent side. “This is regretful that a member has been injured due to the action,” he said. The government benches claimed that the PTI member Akram Cheema was injured after a PMLN parliamentarian threw a sanitizer bottle at him. The speaker directed the security staff to identify the member who had thrown the bottle towards the treasury benches.
Seeing the situation, the members from the treasury benches rose in their seats and started protesting forcing the chair to adjourn proceedings.However once the proceedings were initiated again, the Opposition Leader Shehbaz Sharif during his brief speech, alleged that it was Prime Minister Imran Khan who directed his members create hooliganism in the National Assembly, adding that he was saddened to see helplessness of the chair. “It was blackest day in the parliamentary history of the country,” Shehbaz said. He said it was decision of his party that they would reciprocate with the same gesture during address of Leader of the House if the government allows him not to speak peacefully. However, the jeering and screaming MPs from the treasury did not allow Shehbaz to complete his speech, which was often interrupted by catcalls, whistling and loud slogans. During the entire time Shehbaz was surrounded by a protective ring of seargents at arms and some of PMLN MPs to prevent anyone from physically hurting the junior Sharif.
Earlier, at the outset of proceedings, the speaker said the PMLN member Rana Tanveer Hussain approached him saying his party wanted a parliamentary committee be constituted to ensure smooth proceedings in the house. He offered the government the opposition to give names of six members each for the parliamentary committee. “If required, we can also move towards making changes in the rules,” he said.
During suspension of proceedings, a government group comprising MNAs Ali Muhammad Khan, Aamir Dogar, Khalid Magsi and Iqbal Muhammad Ali Khan met the opposition members. However, the opposition told them that names for the committee would be conveyed after consultation with the leadership.
Meanwhile, the combined opposition wrote a letter to the speaker which said that on Tuesday, tens of treasury bench MNAs led by several ministers verbally abused and physically attacked the leader of the opposition as he was making the opening speech of the budget debate. “You were personally chairing the proceedings and are a witness to the events which took place. In fact, you inexplicably adjourned the sittings and left the chair on three separate occasions,” said the letter.
The letter while addressing the speaker said that he was custodian of the House and was responsible to maintain decorum and protect dignity of members and the House. It said this was the first occasion in the history of National Assembly and possibly global parliamentary history, that MNAs from the treasury benches and the government ministers defied the speaker and physically attacked the opposition.
“You unfortunately turned a blind eye and remained silent on the violence and abuses which unfolded before your eyes,” the letter said. The opposition’s letter said the opposition cannot be expected to have any confidence in speaker’s impartiality or ability to run the House according to parliamentary norms and traditions. The letter further said it was unfortunate that Leader of the House is absent and silent over these events.
Meanwhile, the combined opposition decided to explore the option of bringing no-confidence motion against Speaker Asad Qaiser.The decision was taken in the consultation meeting of the opposition that was held in the opposition lobby at the Parliament House that was attended by Opposition Leader Shehbaz Sharif, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and other parliamentary leaders of the opposition parties.
According to sources, the opposition agreed to form a committee to examine the option of brining no-confidence motion against the speaker. Talking to The News, the PPP Secretary Information Shazia Marri confirmed that opposition has decided to explore the option of no-confidence motion as the speaker he failed to protect the sanctity of the House. However, she said the opposition will form the committee to discuss the strategy and timing to bring the no-confidence motion.
Earlier, Prime Minister Imran Khan directed Asad Qaiser to act as per law and Constitution while dealing with the issue of rumpus during the National Assembly session.
The speaker during the meeting with the prime minister briefed him on the happenings during the National Assembly session that saw shoving and pushing between the lawmakers, hurling of the budget books and use of foul language during the speech of Opposition Leader Shehbaz Sharif.
Meanwhile, the NA speaker made a telephonic contact Shehbaz Sharif and Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and discussed Tuesday’s incident. Regretting the incident, the speaker said that both treasury and the opposition benches were responsible for maintaining the order in the House.
The PMLN Secretary Information Marriyum Aurangzeb said the PTI government attacked the democratic system of Pakistan on Tuesday, not just the leader of the opposition and the opposition.
In a statement, Marriyum said in his pre-budget cabinet meeting, Imran Khan did not order to eliminate inflation and taxes in the anti-people, budget but instead ordered to attack Shehbaz Sharif and the opposition.
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