ISLAMABAD : Former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has accused National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser of failing to ensure the attendance of detained legislators in the lower house through production orders.
In his open letter, penned on August 26 but made available on Thursday, Abbasi claimed he was aware that the speaker’s office was under pressure by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government on the matter of production orders for the detained members.
“I have individually and collectively tried to impress upon your office in private meetings, official discussions and on the floor of the house, the need to issue production orders for members of the National Assembly who are under detention; judicial or otherwise.
Unfortunately, my efforts have had no effect,” the senior PML-N leader said in the letter.
“It is the fundamental and inherent responsibility of the speaker of the National Assembly, as the elected custodian of the house, to ensure that members are able to attend the proceedings of the house unhindered and to ensure that any obstacles to their attendance are removed.”
He also accused the office of the speaker of engaging in deliberate delays over the issuance of the order.
“The last NA session was called on July 29 this year while my production orders were released on August 5. Similarly, a joint session of the parliament was called on August 6 but my production orders were delivered on August 7. I wrote a letter to your office elaborating the two instances but got no answer.”
He urged the speaker to take up his role as ‘protector and guardian of the NA’ and to take his own stand.
“As a leader for ensuring parliamentary traditions and practices, I urge you to issue production orders under the said principles of the house. It is deplorable that I cannot take part in the proceedings of the house even if you issue my production orders as your office would need to release production orders for all jailed members of assembly,” said the letter.
“In the absence of elected representatives, the proceedings of the house would be considered incomplete. It appears that you are under some pressure to not release production orders of the elected representatives,” it added.
In its reply to the open letter, the National Assembly has stated that the issuance of production order is the prerogative of the speaker, which they would issue as dictated by the situation.
The letter, written by the NA additional secretary on the directives of the Asad Qaiser, underscored that the speaker ‘is well aware of his responsibilities towards safeguarding the rights of parliamentarians’.
It concluded that if Abbasi wasn’t satisfied with the issuance of production order by the speaker, he could seek legal recourse.