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June 19, 2019

Opposition leader’s speech becomes mission impossible

Top Story

June 19, 2019

ISLAMABAD: A session of the National Assembly ended in furore on Tuesday following Opposition Leader Shahbaz Sharif’s third and another failed attempt to complete his speech on Federal Budget 2019-20. 

It seemed to be mission impossible for Shahbaz Sharif, also the president of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), to finish his speech despite getting yet another chance to take up the debate on the budget. Members of the federal government, as well as the opposition leaders, continued to disrupt the decorum of the session, while the PPP members attended the session wearing black armbands.

To bring the House in order, NA Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri gave a 20-minute break to the participants while the PML-N's women members filmed the entire incident despite Suri'sorders to refrain from doing so.

Consequently, the deputy speaker had to summon lady staff to confiscate the mobile phones of PML-N women members. Qasim Suri urged lawmakers to follow and respect the code of conduct for members while attending the sitting of the House.

"The Rules have been devised by the members of the House themselves and they should ensure (the) sanctity of the House by following these rules," he said, asking the members to maintain decorum in the House.

Soon after the commencement of the sitting, Suri said copies of Rule 30 in the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in National Assembly 2007 were provided to lawmakers in both Urdu and English. He urged the lawmakers to follow the Rule 30 Conduct of members while present in the assembly.

After three days of noisy proceedings, the government and opposition parties agreed on smooth functioning of the House. The breakthrough was reached after talks between senior parliamentarians from the two sides at chamber of the speaker during two-hour suspension of proceedings.

On returning to the House, the PML-N parliamentary leader Khawaja Asif said they have seen tenures of assemblies during the regime of dictators like Pervez Musharraf but never experienced such a weak chair of the speaker. “This is responsibility of the members to run proceedings of the House, but the speaker should also not take any dictations,” he said.

He said the government members have been making noise for the last three days to blackmail the opposition members so that they do not protest during speech of the prime minister. He warned the government that extra constitutional step was taken whenever any government adopted such an attitude.

Khawaja Asif called that production orders of Makhdoom Javed Hashmi were issued and he was brought from jail to attend proceedings of the House even during Musharraf regime. He said that production orders of incumbent railways minister were issued by speaker during Benazir Bhutto government when no rules existed for the purpose. He said the opposition members wanted that the House of 220 million should function with dignity but the chair would also have to show courage.

On that the deputy speaker said he asked members from both sides to sit and find out way to run proceedings of the House in a smooth way saying that all members were equal to him and rules also apply equally on them.

However, the PML-N member said whenever the opposition wanted to raise any issue, the chair wrapped up the proceedings. Responding to Khawaja Asif’s speech, Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry uttered some words for opposition which the chair had to expunge. He said the opposition parties had no interest with problems of the masses like price hike, but they were interested only in protecting their leaders.

He said the government members would give tit for tat response to the opposition benches in the House. The House echoed with noise from opposition benches when Fawad Chaudhry appreciated Speaker Asad Qaisar and Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri for conduct of proceedings of the House.

The PPP leader Raja Pervaiz Ashraf while demanding issuance of production orders of ex-president Asif Ali Zardari reminding that Zardari, when president, returned all powers to the Parliament. He expressed hope that the chair would conduct proceedings of the House while following rules.

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan said it had been his effort to run conduct of the House in a smooth way. However, he said, every top leader is respectable to his members and worker and also complained about attitude of the opposition members. Pointing to chair of the prime minister, he said it is not any individual but this chair which is more respectable. He said if there were charges of corruption against any politician, the courts were independent to take decisions.

Earlier, Shahbaz said the PML-N government had added 11,000 megawatts electricity to overcome loadshedding in the country, improved GDP growth from 3.3 percent to 5.8 percent and slashed inflation from 12 percent to just 3 percent. He said the PML-N government brought revolution in the fields of education and health. He said their government successfully defeated terrorism and restored order in Karachi with the help of unmatched sacrifices of the armed forces of Pakistan.

As the two sides agreed on smooth conduct of the House, the opposition leader would resume his speech on budget debate today (Wednesday). Meanwhile, Prime Minister’s Advisor on Finance, Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh laid before the House “The Assets Declaration Ordinance, 2019 (Ordinance No. III of 2019)."

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