Lawmakers used most of their time in the National Assembly on Thursday to spew out a nonstop torrent of the most unparliamentary language possible.
The usual “chor [thief], daku [robber], corrupt” verbal spat reached to the next level when PTI’s MNA Ataullah hurled abuses as he headed back to his seat after taking part in a brawl that took place around the speaker’s desk.
It all started when PPP’s Naved Qamar rushed to Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri after he gave floor to three federal ministers – Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Fawad Chaudhry and Asad Umar – one after another without giving a chance to opposition to voice their opinion.
Qamar not just rushed to Suri’s desk but turned his mic on; protested against unfair treatment and finally lifted another mic in his left hand, seeing an unfazed Suri, who did not forget to turn his mic off, ignoring him and trying to focus on Umar’s speech.
As other opposition members started gathering around the deputy speaker’s desk, PTI MNAs Saifullah, Ataullah and several others also rushed to counter Qamar and others. The scuffle broke out and a shouting and pushing match began.
A couple of lawmakers fell on the floor but they stood up and re-joined the scuffle; while several lawmakers started separating the angriest among them; and finally, Ataullah while crossing the aisle between the leader of the House and the leader of the opposition hurled abuses at the opposition.
Hurling insults at each other is nothing new in the House but hearing the loud and clear curse words even forced PML-N’s Murtaza Javed Abbasi to rush to Ataullah’s seat and put his hand on his mouth to reduce its loudness.
Ataullah didn’t care about anything but Abbasi made sure that Ataullah was completely muffled. The damage, however, was done as unparliamentary language in the parliament prevailed during Wednesday session.
The debate on proposed constitutional amendment for open vote in Senate elections was merely used for “exposing” the opposition, as admitted by the foreign minister, who agreed that the government did not have enough numbers to get the amendment passed.
The day began with blaming the previous governments, whom Energy Minister Omar Ayub accused of increasing circular debt. Ayub also accused the opposition of giving protecting the culprits, saying phone calls are made from Sindh CM’s Office requesting not to register FIRs against culprits for electricity theft.
PPP’s Shazia Marri responded by saying that Rs300 billion circular debt was increased because of the incumbent government. Ayub stood up to answer several questions during the Question Hour and every time he spoke, the opposition chanted slogans of “Lota, Lota” – the words that the deputy speaker did not order to expunge.
Within first few minutes, the opposition members were standing around the speaker’s desk; holding placards carrying words “Chor”, “Na’laiq” [inefficient] etc; chanting slogans about increase in the prices of bread and oil etc.
Whistleblowing, meanwhile, continued throughout the session; books were mercilessly banged on the desks to disrupt he proceedings; papers were torn up and thrown in the air; and opprobrious remarks were passed as Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Fawad Chaudhry made speeches. The deputy speaker ignored everything.
Chaudhry and SAPM Shahzad Akbar were seen making videos of the opposition’s protest while PPP’s Shazia Marri and Agha Rafiullah gave tough time to the official cameramen as they tried to come in the frame with placards showing anti-government slogans when Chaudhry was making his speech.
“Enough is enough,” thundered Qureshi, as he sought assurance from the opposition that they would also listen to the government speeches after voicing their opinion on the 26th Amendment Bill. However, the opposition showed no interest and continued their protest.
Suri kept giving floor to the ministers and, though, one could not properly hear what was being said inside the assembly; the speeches shown through TV screens helped the government build its narrative of transparent elections through open vote in the face of “corrupt” opposition.
Just like Qureshi, Chaudhry and Umar also reminded the opposition that PM will not give them NRO. Chaudhry went on to call ex-PM Nawaz Sharif ‘head of thieves’ sitting in London and leaving 40 thieves behind. The day ended with opposition being blamed for everything wrong in the country.