NA session: Opposition raises rare firestorm in house

PML-N’s Birjees Tahir’s speech catches ministers off guard.

Express August 12, 2011


A glimpse of real opposition, which has become a rarity nowadays, was seen on Thursday during the current session of the National Assembly, which visibly disturbed the legislators on treasury benches and made some of them, usually patient listeners, reciprocate. However, they did not have much time to do that with any tangible effect.

A single fiery speech of PML-N’s Barjees Tahir, which was well supported by his colleagues, drew every member’s attention. Most of the PML-N lawmakers supported Tahir with desk-thumping and slogans of ‘shame shame’ on more than one occasion during his speech.  Interestingly, all ministers were in the house when Tahir made the speech.

“To whom should one complain? There is not a single minister present here to reply, not even secretaries in the galleries,” an emotionally-charged Tahir pointed out.

The day that began with messages of the founder of Pakistan Muhammad Ali Jinnah read out by the Speaker National Assembly Dr Fehmida Mirza and his subsequent 11 August speech by Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani did not end well for the members of the PPP and the Awami National Party.

The ANP members walked out of the assembly as their protest over the revival of the local government system in Sindh continued.

Tahir reminded former minister for water and power Raja Pervez Ashraf, of his promises to the nation to end load-shedding of electricty by the end 2009. “It had worsened further instead,” added Tahir.

He criticised lack of seriousness on the part of government to take governance issues seriously and for ‘failing to provide any relief to the public during their tenure of three years’.

A visibly irked Syed Sumsam Bukhari of the PPP was quick to respond on a point of order. He requested the chair to expunge certain ‘indecent’ words used by the PML-N legislator during his speech.

“His speech was just criticism for the sake of critism but he should not have used derogatory words,” said Bukhari. Two more members from the treasury benches also tried to downplay Tahir’s criticism and reiterated their government’s achievements.

The house passed the Regulation of Generation, Transmission and Distribution of Electric Power (Amendment) Bill, 2010 with amendment proposed by the Opposition. The minister for water and power Naveed Qamar did not oppose the ammendments proposed by the members of PML-N.

Parliamentarians from both sides of the aisle on Thursday paid rich tribute to the founder of the nation Muhammad Ali Jinnah and vowed to work collectively to meet the challenges confronting the country.

In his speech, the prime minister said that Pakistan’s nuclear assets were in safe hands. He said no party could single-handedly resolve the challeges faced by the nation. “We need to work together to resolve our problems,” said Gilani.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 12th, 2011.