ISLAMABAD: Rumpus in the National Assembly (NA) continued for second consecutive day as Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and government lawmakers traded allegations.
The session started two hours behind schedule, in an effort to change the atmosphere after speeches by leader of the opposition in the National Assembly Syed Khursheed Shah and Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique on Wednesday.
Accepting PTI’s demand, seconded by Khursheed Shah, the speaker allowed PTI’s Shah Mahmood Qureshi to speak after suspending the question-hour and other items on the day’s agenda.
Rafique’s approach was much conciliatory during Thursday’s proceedings after he retracted his comments in which he allegedly called PTI members goons (Ghunday) and clarified that he had used the word ‘Ghunda Gardi’.
On a point of order, Qureshi addressed the speaker as Ayaz Sadiq Sahab three or four times, instead of addressing him as ‘Mr Speaker’.
On all such occasions, treasury benches responded with a roar, interrupting Qureshi’s speech. Every time, the speaker intervened to defuse the situation, asking the treasury benches to calm down and let Qureshi speak.
Qureshi said that he expected the speaker to act as the custodian of the rights of opposition and this was not the case during the last proceedings of the House. He said that was the reason why he addressed him as ‘Ayaz Sadiq Sahab’.
He said he and his party represented eight million voters and in terms of votes, it was the second largest party in the House.
In the meantime, Qureshi also responded to the bashing of the treasury benches: on one such occasion he said: “I’m enjoying your cat talk.”
Another time, he commented: “Look into my eyes and smile.”
He sought Saad Rafique’s explanation why he called PTI lawmakers goons. The speaker said that he had not heard this word, but if it had been used, he would expunge it from the proceedings.
Qureshi said PTI had wanted to move a privilege motion against Nawaz Sharif’s divergent points of view on Panama Papers. The one which he expressed in the NA or what his lawyers described in the Supreme Court, he said.
He said people were misled by the PM and no proof of money trail was provided in the apex court.
“Nawaz Sharif should face the House. We want an explanation from him in this context will satisfy a lot of queries,” he stated.
He said he would not allow the railways’ minster to speak if he did not apologise for his comments.
Sahibzada Tariqullah of JI also spoke on a point of order and termed corruption as Pakistan’s greatest tragedy. He said it seemed that the government was not sincere in eradicating corruption.
Besides withdrawing abusive comments, Khawaja Saad Rafique invited the opposition to a dialogue on Panama Papers to find a way out of the quagmire.
“You cannot convert parliament into Supreme Court or vice versa. We own each word uttered by the Prime Minister here,” he stated.
He said that PTI was just levelling allegations against the ruling party for the past several years. He also said that the opposition’s TORs were not TORs as they were Sharif-specific.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 16th, 2016.
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