PESHAWAR: On a momentous day when newly-elected lawmakers from the erstwhile federally administered tribal areas (Fata) became the first cohort to be elected to the provincial assembly, the combined opposition walked out of the provincial assembly to protest the speaker’s decision not to allow their colleague to speak.
The assembly also passed a bill on controlling narcotics in the province.
Tuesday’s session of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Assembly, presided by Speaker Mushtaq Ghani, came nearly after a month.
During the session, leaders of opposition parties asked the speaker to allow them special permission to speak about the issues faced by them, particularly an ANP member.
However, the speaker declined their request. He pointed out that it was a momentous day when the first elected provincial assembly members from the erstwhile federally administered tribal areas (Fata) had taken the oath, hence he would not allow the opposition to sully that.
This infuriated the opposition who staged a walkout from the assembly.
They were convinced to return to the house by K-P Food Minister Qalander Lodhi and information Minister Yousafzai 10 minutes later.
The K-P Control of Narcotics Substances Bill 2019, which had been introduced in the assembly on July 19, 2019, by Provincial Information Minister Shaukat Yousafzai, was debated.
Aimed at controlling narcotic substances, narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances more effectively and forcefully for socio-economicc wellbeing of the people of the province, the bill was passed after the treasury benches accepted some amendments proposed by Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) lawmaker Sher Azam Wazir, Awami National Party (ANP) lawmaker Shagufta Malik and Sumaira Shams of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).
The bill recommends the death penalty and a fine of Rs5 million for drug peddlers. For amassing assets from drug money, a sentence of 25 years in prisons has been recommended. Furthermore, the bill also includes crystal methamphetamines (also known as ‘ice’) as an addictive narcotic.
Furthermore, the bill calls for setting up a special court to hear drug cases with a judge of sessions court level. Further, an authority will be created which will be led by an officer of a director-general level.
The new legislation also suggests the creation of a laboratory which specializes in checking narcotic substances. An academy will be established to train staff for these labs.
Explaining the need for the bill in wake of a federal narcotics force and law, the provincial minister said that under the 18th constitutional amendment, the province has the authority to frame legislation for this purpose.
The assembly session was then adjourned by the speaker until 10:30am on Wednesday.
Earlier when the assembly session started, some 19 newly-elected lawmakers from the newly-merged tribal districts took the oath.
Parliamentary party meeting
Earlier, K-P Chief Minister Mahmood Khan held a meeting with parliamentary party leaders in Peshawar where he briefed them on the situation with regards to the annexation of Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) by New Delhi, and the political and security situation in the province.
All political parties leaders shared their insight into the post-annexation situation in the country and the call by Prime Minister Imran Khan to present a united front on Kashmir, highlighting the atrocities committed by Indian forces both inside and outside the assembly.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 28th, 2019.