PML-N boycotts, PPP skips meeting on scuffle outside parliament

Major opposition parties have previously boycotted the parliamentary committee meetings

Rizwan Shehzad   March 22, 2021
PML-N's Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Miftah Ismail meet PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari at Bilawal House in Karachi. PHOTO: PPP MEDIA CELL


The PML-N on Monday boycotted the maiden meeting of the Senior Parliamentarians Council (SPC), which was convened to discuss alleged manhandling of the main opposition party’s lawmakers outside parliament on March 6 when Prime Minister Imran Khan was taking a vote of confidence.

National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser set up the SPC on March 10 and referred to it the matter of mistreatment of senior PML-N lawmakers -- including Ahsan Iqabl and Marriyum Aurangzeb -- at the hands of alleged supporters of the ruling party.

Senior lawmakers from the ruling coalition who were included in the panel were Fakhr Imam, Shafqat Mehmood and Pervez Khattak from the PTI; Dr Fehmida Mirza from the GDA; Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui from the MQM; Khalid Hussain Magsi from the BAP and Tariq Bashir Cheema from the PML-Q

It also included Rana Tanveer Hussain, Sardar Ayaz Sadiq and Chaudhry Mahmood Bashir Virk from the PML-N: Raja Pervez Ashraf and Aftab Shaban Mirani from the PPP; Shahida Akhtar Ali from the JUI-F and Akhtar Mengal from the BNP.

However, at the first SPC meeting – convened by Federal Minister for National Food Security Fakhar Imam on Monday – the members from opposition parties were conspicuous by their absence.

The committee waited for the opposition members to join the meeting and later formed a sub-committee comprising Fehmida Mirza, Tariq Bashir Cheema and Pervez Khattak to coordinate with the remaining members of the panel.

Also read PML-N seeks PPP's support in NA-249 by-poll

PML-N Secretary Information Marriyum Aurangzeb later said the party was invited to attend the SPC meeting but it decided to boycott the same.

PPP chief media coordinator Nazir Dhoki said the PPP skipped the meeting as former premier Raja Pervaiz Ashraf – a member of the committee – was in Lahore to accompany PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari for a meeting with JI chief Sirajul Haq.

“The party will make a formal decision about the SPC soon,” he added.

Talking to the media after the meeting, Imam said the SPC might include more members in the sub-committee. The SPC will hold consultation with all the senior parliamentarians, he said.

“We want to create a conducive environment in the parliament to find out solutions to the national issues. The opposition was standing by the government when the Pulwama incident took place. I hope that the relations between the government and the opposition will improve,” he said.

For the past few months, major opposition parties have been boycotting the parliamentary committee meetings and stayed away from the committees formed by the National Assembly speaker.

Since September last year, the opposition parties have boycotted at least four meetings of different parliamentary committees. In November 2020, the opposition boycotted the Special Parliamentary Committee on Coronavirus Disease.

Also, on November 11, Speaker Qaiser had to cancel the parliamentary leaders’ meeting convened for a briefing by military officials on national security after all opposition parties decided to stay away from it.

Asad Qaiser had called the SPC with an aim to improve the working environment in the house, especially, after the March 6 scuffle in front of the Parliament House.



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