PESHAWAR: In what was an embarrassing moment, the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government had to face whistling from one of their own lawmakers for failure to release development funds.
As the question hour began during the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’s Assembly’s session on Monday, Amjad Afridi — a Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) lawmaker from Kohat patiently waited his turn.
Finally, Deputy Speaker Dr Mehar Taj Roghani turned to Afridi and motioned him to take the floor. This was the moment Afridi had been waiting for.
After a short pause, seemingly going over in his head the contents of what he wished to say next, Afridi let loose. He began with a tirade against the government, shouting out his questions over the powers and authority granted to the assembly’s speaker who, the lawmaker claimed, had provided assurances that his longstanding demands of releasing the oil and gas funds for Kohat would be released.
“Around six to seven months ago, I had protested in this house against the government for failing to release oil and gas funds for Kohat,” Afridi recalled.
“After that protest, I had staged another one in which I had climbed onto the bench (in front of his chair) and registered my protest and the speaker gave me assurances that the funds would be released and he would issue a ruling from the chair directing the authorities concerned to release the funds and present a report in the house,” he said, adding that it has been seven months and the funds have yet to be released.
“What are the powers and authority of this house when its orders are not obeyed,” he asked, adding that K-P Chief Minister Pervez Khattak had blocked the oil and gas royalty funds.
At this, the deputy speaker turned Afridi’s microphone off and reminded the disgruntled lawmaker to stay on topic.
Frustrated, Afridi whipped out a whistle which he had smuggled into the heavily guarded assembly building, put it up to his pursed lips and blew.
A high-pitched screech of the whistle followed, forcing lawmakers to cover their ears.
The house, though, tried to continue its proceedings even with Afridi blowing the whistle.
This continued for a couple of minutes and Afridi asked opposition lawmakers to join him in his protest.
As the deputy speaker decided to proceed with other questions, Afridi started blowing his whistle even louder and climbed his desk again.
However, this time the K-P Minister for Forests Ishtiaq Urmar stopped him.
In the meantime, the deputy speaker adjourned the sitting until Friday.
“I have not seen such [rowdy] situation in this assembly in my life. This is unprecedented,” she remarked.
Later on, while speaking to the media, Afridi said that Kohat had a share of Rs6.4 billion in the oil and gas royalty for the past three years. However, the government has thus far only released a total of Rs1.26 billion while the remaining funds have yet to be released.
The house failed to complete its agenda for the day which contained bills on the local government department, public procurement regulatory authority amendment bill and the K-P university amendment bill 2018.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 13th, 2018.