Wednesday September 28, 2022

Attack on armed forces akin to attack on parliament: Speaker

Constitution provides that every institution should act within its ambit, says Raja Pervaiz Ashraf

August 11, 2022
Speaker National Assembly Raja Pervaiz Ashraf. —Twitter National Assembly of Pakistan
Speaker National Assembly Raja Pervaiz Ashraf. —Twitter National Assembly of Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: Speaker of the National Assembly Raja Pervaiz Ashraf on Wednesday ruled that the Constitution provides that every institution should act within its ambit and that an institution should respect the other institution. Paying tributes to the martyrs of armed forces, Ashraf declared that any attack on the armed forces would be considered an attack on the Parliament.

“Parliament is the mother of all the institutions and it represents the wisdom of 220 million people of the country and every institution should keep this fact in mind,” the speaker said.

While paying homage to the martyrs of the armed forces, the speaker said: “The whole nation mourned the martyrdom of Lt. General Sarfraz Ali, besides other officers and those soldiers who sacrificed their lives while taking part in the flood relief operation.”

The speaker observed that the television channels should adopt a careful approach so that they do not become part of any hybrid war against the country and the campaign to humiliate institutions like the Pakistan Army. Speaker Pervez Ashraf declared any attack on “the armed forces would be considered an attack on the Parliament.” There is a clear distinction between freedom to air views and attacking the armed forces, the speaker said.

Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Noor Alam Afridi on the floor of the National Assembly strongly condemned the attempts to instigate the subordinate officers against the Pak Army leadership by a private channel. Speaking on a point of order, Afridi pointed out that the live statement of the PTI leader on a television channel (ARY) served the agenda of the country’s enemies and it was repeated by the Indian channels. “ Instead of stopping the transmission of the statement, the television channel not only allowed to complete the same but it was repeated time and again, the PAC chairman said.

Referring to an earlier point of order raised by Dr. Fahmida Mirza in which she protested the closure of television channels, the PAC chairman said the Constitution also provides for safeguarding institutions against any propaganda. Noor Alam maintained that the House should pass a resolution declaring no compromise on the sanctity of sacrifices by the country’s custodians. “Those who criticise this institution should leave the country and settle in some other country,” he said.

Without naming any channel, he said the same channel continued to present him as a US agent. The PAC chairman, however, observed that the institutions should also cooperate with the Public Accounts Committee in its workings. Earlier, ex-Speaker Dr. Fahmida Mirza said that there should be stronger legislation against mocking institutions.

Calling for safeguarding freedom of expression, Dr Fahmida Mirza said that instead of closing a television channel, the specific programme be banned and those responsible should be taken to task.

While responding to a point of order, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif said on concerns shown by Mohsin Dawar regarding reports of presence of Taliban in KP that TTP was becoming an increasing threat and it was not a provincial issue but a national one. He said that parliamentarians were twice briefed on talks between the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Pakistan government that were in progress but a danger was still there. The situation is critical along the Pak-Afghan border, the Minister of Defence Kh Asif told the house.

Minister for Aviation Khawaja Saad Rafique told the National Assembly that the government was working on a plan to make operational Roosevelt Hotel in the United States, owned by the national flag carrier, PIA. Responding to a calling attention notice, the minister said he personally feels this hotel is a precious asset of the PIA that needs to be protected. He said a case had been sent to the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet to make 300 to 400 out of 1,050 rooms of the hotel operational through a joint venture. He informed the House that efforts are being made for the restoration of various international routes of Pakistan International Airlines, particularly the United States and the United Kingdom this year. He said once these routes are restored, then there will be no justification for the European Union to bar PIA from operating in the EU countries.

The minister said certain friendly nations also do not want the reopening of routes for PIA as they are doing a thriving business on those routes, but we are working hard to restore PIA flights there. He said British Airways would restore its flights this month. He said PIA is acquiring four A330 aircraft on dry lease, two have already come and two more are about to come.

The National Assembly passed the Public Private Partnership Authority Act, 2017 [The Public Private Partnership Authority (Amendment) Bill, 2022; the Bill to establish the Iqbal Academy for promotion of the thought of Allama Iqbal [The Iqbal Academy Pakistan Bill, 2022 and the Bill further to amend the Pakistan Penal Code, 1860 [The Pakistan Penal Code (Amendment) Bill, 2022.

Besides, three bills were introduced in the House including The Railways (Amendment) Bill, 2022, The Qanun-e-Shahadat (Amendment) Bill, 2022, and The Control of Narcotics Substances (Amendment) Bill, 2021. The chair referred the bills to the standing committees concerned.

Earlier, the House offered Fateha for the departed souls of Pakistan Army soldiers martyred in a suicide attack in North Waziristan.