NA session marred by opposition boycott

Delay in arrival of PML-N president causes uproar in lower house


Our Correspondent October 30, 2018
National Assembly PHOTO: APP

ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly on Monday witnessed a noisy session as the opposition staged a boycott from the house over delay in producing Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Shehbaz Sharif despite standing orders of Speaker Asad Qaiser to the effect.

However, the opposition ended its boycott soon after the arrival of the PML-N president in the lower house of parliament. He was earlier produced in an accountability court in Lahore in connection with the Ashiana housing scam.

The high point of Monday’s session was the side-by-side entry of Pakistan Peoples Party Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari and Shehbaz Sharif in the house.

Will not let Shehbaz Sharif become PAC chairman at any cost: PM Imran

Earlier the two leaders held a brief meeting and discussed a host of issues, with particular reference to Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal’s Chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman’s efforts to hold an all-party conference.

However, no headway was made regarding participation of PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif in the proposed conference.

Shehbaz and Zardari agreed upon a working relationship and also decided on a joint strategy to deal with problems the country is currently facing, sources told the Express News.

The session with Speaker Asad Qaiser in the chair was marred by protest by the opposition. As per the speaker’s production orders, the NAB Lahore team was directed to produce Shehbaz for the session of the lower house at 4pm.

His delayed arrival in the Parliament House meant that he could not chair a meeting of PML-N's parliamentary party, scheduled for an hour before the session's start. In his absence, senior leaders Ahsan Iqbal and Khawaja Asif jointly led the meeting.

Although the PML-N president was flown to the capital from Lahore for the previous session, he was driven to the city via the motorway on Monday. NAB authorities also took him to Islamabad's Polyclinic for a check-up before the NA session.

Speaking on the floor of the assembly, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi called on the opposition to attend the session and present their stance.

“The treasury and opposition benches need to sit together and decide how parliament will work," Qureshi said while speaking on a point of order.

He said the government and opposition were two integral parts of parliament and the performance of parliament might be affected if one of them had not played constructive role.

The minister said "they (opposition) should come back and present their point of view as we are ready to listen to them".

Qureshi said the production order of the opposition leader in the National Assembly had been issued and those would be implemented.

"The government has no objections to listen to the opposition's point of view," he added.

He said the whole proceedings of the National Assembly would be meaningless if the opposition did not play its role.

PML-N leader Rana Tanveer said the speaker had issued the production order of Shehbaz but it had not been implemented.

"If the orders regarding Shehbaz Sharif had not been implemented, we have no justification to attend the house proceedings," he added.

Later, the foreign minister and Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan held successful discussion with the opposition who later on joined the proceedings of the house.

After attending the NA session, Zardari left for Zardari House and gave brief responses to questions of media personnel. On his meeting with PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif, the former president said that there has been no update on the issue of All Parties Conference (APC).

Meanwhile, Shehbaz spoke to the media inside parliament and said that he briefly met with Zardari. In response to a question, the PML-N president said that he will speak about matters related to the APC after consultation with his party.

“They did not want to bring me,” Shehbaz commented to reporters about the NAB team, adding that he was made to travel on the motorway despite an ache in his back.

He said NAB had avoided bringing him to parliament via airplane on the pretext of different reasons.

Shehbaz's remand extended till Nov 7 in Ashiana housing case

"They didn't want to bring me [to Islamabad] in an airplane," the opposition leader claimed, adding that the bureau had used the suspension of flight and unavailability of seats as an excuse.

Resolution on Kashmir violence

Also, the National Assembly unanimously passed a resolution condemning Indian state atrocities in the occupied Kashmir.

"This house condemns Indian atrocities and aggression [in Kashmir]," read the resolution presented by Federal Minister for Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit Baltistan Ali Amin Gandapur.

"The international community should notice of Indian aggression and violations of human rights," it said, stressing that the Kashmir issue should be resolved in light of United Nations Security Council resolutions.

Speaking on the issue, Gandapur noted that some 90,000 people have been killed by Indian forces in occupied Kashmir till date. As many as 140,000 people have been imprisoned and more than 13,000 women widowed, he added.

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