Monday September 26, 2022

Shahbaz Gill arrest: Senate session prorogued amid PTI protest

August 20, 2022

ISLAMABAD: Massive noisy protest by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf members in Senate over alleged torture of Shahbaz Gill forced Chairman Muhammad Sadiq Sanjrani to prorogue the session without even taking up the question hour.

Federal Minister for Climate Change Sherry Rehman tried to calm them down and said there was no question of endorsing torture, and assured the House of conducting a probe into the allegations.

The minister said a report had been submitted to the court and there was no evidence of torture, saying “the photographs shown to us have no signs of torture”.

The PTI legislators, wearing black armbands, raised the issue in the House and then gathered around the chair’s podium, chanting full throated slogans against the government like “Down with the racist government” and “We do not accept tyrannical rules”, while a minister was on her feet to respond.

As the House resumed, Leader of the Opposition Dr Shahzad Wasim was on his feet to protest the “manner in which Gill was brought to the court from the hospital and tortured by removing his oxygen mask, which was given to him only after court’s intervention”.

He said a medical report clearly said Gill came to hospital with a severe asthmatic attack, as he had an old history of asthma, which was triggered due to anxiety and stress. He explained the latest medical report by their (government’s) medical bias says Gill was bronchospasm - a condition where the muscles of airway in one’s lungs tighten.

Dr Shahzad pointed out the term ‘audible wheeze’ had also been used in the report, which also refers to soft tissue tenderness’ - a condition where soft tissues in body parts have pain saying that torture was a clear reason for it.

He continued the report also mentions respiratory alkalosis in which high level of carbon dioxide disrupt blood’s acid base balance: the report has not mentioned hypokalemia - the biggest health hazard this condition leads to. He added the syndrome causes to reduce potassium in the blood stream, which affects cardiac muscles and poses the threat of a heart attack.

The PTI senator wondered, “Where should we take the Constitution which guarantees fundamental rights, as you (rulers) are trying to choke breath of opponents. Your attitude today will haunt you forever”.

He insisted that there should be no room for inhuman tactics and torture, urging the lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to take a collective stand on it, setting aside political differences.

And, when Minister Sherry Rehman tried to respond, the opposition members started protest in front of the chair’s podium. She agreed that everybody had the right to a fair trial. However, she contended, “your fascism and torture of political opponents is a separate story”. She asserted while criticising PTI’s rule, amidst a continued noisy protest uproar in the House.

“The PTI has devastated the country’s economy and is now hell-bent to vitiate atmosphere in the Parliament House, as there is no justification for the protest. The PTI has set the worst example of witch-hunt against political opponents who were kept on remand for up to 90 days, disallowing them to see their lawyers and relatives,” retorted Federal Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Senator Murtaza Javed Abbasi.

Chairman Sanjrani’s repeated requests to senators to restore calm and return to their seats fell on the deaf ears, leaving him with other option but to prorogue the House.