Dropping FATA bill: Opposition continues boycott of NA proceedings

Published: December 12, 2017
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National Assembly. 
PHOTO: APP/FILE

National Assembly. PHOTO: APP/FILE

ISLAMABAD: The opposition continued its boycott of the National Assembly proceedings on Tuesday against the withdrawal of the bill pertaining to the reforms in the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) from the agenda of the house.

It was the second consecutive day when the opposition staged walkout from the house. The members vowed to continue their walkout until the government tables the Fata reforms bill in the National Assembly.

The government was supposed to table the reforms bill in the house on Monday but pulled it out from the agenda for “technical reasons”.
Although Tuesday was the private members day, the opposition preferred to stay out of the house.

Consequently, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) pointed out the quorum and the sitting was adjourned when the headcount found that house was not in order.

Earlier, Opposition Leader Syed Khursheed Shah said that the Fata reform bill was a serious issue. He added that never before a bill had been taken out once it was made part of the agenda.

“Tabling a bill and getting it passed unanimously should have been a major breakthrough which could have conveyed the message that the government, in the present circumstances, is still in a position to carry out legislation,” he said.

“If this bill has been withdrawn on technical reasons, tell us the problems. And if you don’t, it is useless for us to sit over here [in the assembly]. We are staging walkout from the house for the sanctity of the parliament,” he added.

Shah said he would not be a part of the move to insult the parliament. “The opposition would continue its protest unless the Fata reforms bill is presented before the house for approval,” the opposition leader told the house.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Sheikh Aftab Ahmad said the government desired to present the Fata reforms bill in parliament after developing consensus among all the parties. He added that the government had always sought guidance from the parliament on important matters.

The minister told lawmakers matters pertaining to Fata reforms bill and a constitutional amendment bill for delimitation of the constituencies would be sorted out through dialogue with the parties.

He added the prime minister had invited the political parties onFriday to develop consensus on the bill.

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Responding to the minister’s reply, the opposition leader said the prime minister was to leave for Turkey on Tuesday and it would have been better if he had convened a meeting prior to his departure. He added running away from issues would multiply problems for the government.

Shah also talked about US President Donald Trump’s decision to shift the US embassy to Jerusalem.

“The prime minister should have convened a meeting of Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Jordon over this issue,” he said, adding that the prime minister should also have called meeting of all of the political parties as well.

Shah raised the issue of hike in the prices of fertilisers and said that no one was ready to give the issue any consideration.

He added that the opposition members would attend the proceeding of the house but the treasury benches were least bothered about it. Afterwards, lawmakers from the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) staged walkout from the house.

Later, Asad Umar of the PTI said the government was the one hatching conspiracy against democracy. He added the government had not yet responded to the opposition’s queries regarding the recent sit-in of the religious group in Islamabad.

“We haven’t received the answer as to why the general sahib was distributing money amongst the protesters. Why these decisions were made on roads,” Umar asked.

He said sugarcanes growers were protesting throughout the country but the government was silent over their problems. After his speech, Umar also walked out from the house.

Before joining the walkout, Shaikh Salahudin of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) stressed the need for introducing land reforms in the country, saying that the government was underutilising the parliament. The house will now meet on Wednesday (today).

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