PESHAWAR: Just like the rest of the province, the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Assembly experienced ups and downs in 2016, with its members resorting to scuffles and celebrating the adoption of joint resolutions.
A total seven sessions were held during the year during which the house held 53 sittings, passing 30 bills, including the controversial Universities Amendment Act, Prevention of Conflict of Interest Act and the Whistleblower Protection and Vigilance Commission Act.
During the last sitting, the assembly passed the first-ever law on mines and minerals development, but the K-P Police was sent to the assembly’s select committee for a thorough discussion.
The assembly lost two of its members, including the PTI’s minorities minister Sardar Suran Singh and PML-N lawmaker Arbab Akbar Hayat during the year in review.
During the year in review, Chief Minister Pervez Khattak showed up 17 times in the house while Speaker Asad Qaiser attended 31 sittings. Leader of opposition Maulana Lutfur Rahman joined 26 sittings. The government’s apathy was evident throughout the year as the assembly was adjourned 28 times because of lack of quorum.
In eight instances, the ruling PTI’s own members pointed out the incomplete quorum. Opposition members later raised this issue in the assembly, criticising the government for not taking the assembly sessions seriously.
The provincial assembly also saw an exchange of punches between PTI’s health minister Shahram Khan, education minister Atif Khan and another PTI lawmaker, Babar Saleem. The speaker had to ask opposition members to intervene when the situation worsened and lawmaker Mohammad Ali Tarakai joined the brawl.
Similarly, PTI MPs Javed Naseem and Arbab Jahandad also scuffled in the house in 2016.
Speaker Asad Qaiser faced criticism for favoring government members and not giving time to opposition members. Lawmakers of the opposition parties in K-P assembly threatened to move a no-confidence motion against him, while PML-N’s parliamentary leader Sardar Aurangzeb Nalota fought with him in the assembly during the last session.
Nalota tabled an adjournment motion against the speaker, criticizing the speaker’s proposed participation in PTI’s Islamabad lockdown plan. The motion was not put on agenda by the speaker.
The Bank of Khyber scandal also surfaced during the year under review, embarrassing the government’s partner JI after its finance minister Muzaffar Said was accused of corruption by the bank’s managing director.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 1st, 2017.