Seven lawmakers face music over NA brawl

Shehbaz again unable to finish his speech as proceedings adjourned due to chaos

Our Correspondent June 16, 2021
National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser


National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser on Wednesday barred seven lawmakers from both sides of the aisle for creating ruckus and behaving in an “unparliamentary” and “inappropriate manner” a day earlier in the House as chaos in the lower house continued for the third straight day forcing leader of the opposition Shehbaz Sharif to cut his budget speech short yet again.

The decision to ban legislators came after the House on Tuesday turned into a fish market as the parliamentarians from both the treasury and opposition squabbled with each other using foul language and threw budget copies during the speech by Shehbaz, the PML-N president.

The National Assembly proceedings were suspended thrice after the lawmakers from the government side, led by some ministers who had come directly to the House after attending the weekly cabinet meeting, refused to listen to Qaiser’s instructions to stay quiet and kept on sloganeering and desk-thumping.

On Wednesday, the NA speaker in a tweet said that the members who disrupted the session during Shehbaz’s speech had been barred from entering the House due to their “unparliamentary” and “inappropriate” behaviour.

Read: Public disbelief as NA descends into rumpus

He also shared a picture of the order on his official Twitter handle which read, “… the conduct of the following Members of the National Assembly was grossly disorderly as they violated the rules and despite repeated direction of the Chair, they interrupted proceedings of the House”.

The names of the parliamentarians whose entry in the House has been banned are Faheem Khan (PTI), Abdul Majeed Khan (PTI), Ali Nawaz Awan (PTI), Ali Gohar Khan (PML-N), Chaudhary Hamid Hameed (PML-N), Sheikh Rohale Asghar (PML-N) and Syed Agha Rafiullah (PPP).

Earlier in the day, Qaiser met Prime Minister Imran Khan during which the country's political situation and ruckus during Tuesday’s session came under discussion.

The NA speaker said that the PM was informed about the incident, adding that those who had violated the sanctity of the House would be punished.

Sources said before the meeting between the prime minister and the speaker, an inquiry meeting was also held in the Parliament House under the chairmanship of Qaiser, in which the National Assembly deputy speaker and secretary participated.

The meeting reviewed the footage and evidence against those who resorted to disorder in the House.

A committee headed by the NA speaker completed the inquiry and decided that members who used vulgar language on Tuesday would not be allowed to attend the session.

Meanwhile, the National Assembly proceedings on Wednesday were adjourned minutes after they started as chaos continued in the house for the third straight day forcing Shehbaz to cut his budget speech short yet again.

Shehbaz tried to finish his speech in the presence of sergeants but the treasury members did not allow him to do so as they resorted to sloganeering.

Qaiser kept asking the lawmakers to remain seated, but eventually adjourned the session.

As soon as the proceedings started, the speaker condemned the unruly behaviour witnessed during Tuesdays’ proceedings and called for a temporary adjournment so that a 12-member parliamentary reconciliation committee could meet. However, tensions between the government and the opposition escalated during this period.

Separate consultative meetings were held in the speaker's chamber and the opposition lobbies. A government delegation met the opposition leader but to no avail.

As the proceedings resumed, Shehbaz held PM Imran responsible for the chaos in the house a day earlier. This compelled the treasury members to resort to making noise again.

The proceedings were adjourned for 15 minutes. However, when they resumed, there was rumpus in the house again, compelling the speaker to adjourn them till Thursday (today).

Read more: Ruckus in Sindh Assembly over water scarcity

"I will not conduct this House until both the government and the opposition [settle their matters]," he said before walking out.

During his speech, Shehbaz condemned the chaos in the National Assembly a day earlier and said it was the speaker’s duty to maintain the sanctity of the house and run it in accordance with the law.

“If the opposition's speeches are peacefully listened to then we would reciprocate and listen to the leader of the house's speech," he said.

"I am saddened by your [speaker’s] helplessness," he said, alleging that the behaviour of treasury members had been sanctioned by the premier himself.

Writing about the incident, Federal Planning and Development Minister Asad Umar claimed in a tweet that the opposition had "attacked" within minutes of the start of the proceedings. He added that PTI lawmaker Muhammad Akram Cheema was also injured by a bottle thrown at him.

"Worried by the economic improvement and popular budget, the opposition wants to run away from discussion on the budget in the house by engaging in confrontation."

It was reported that the decision to give the opposition a tough time during Tuesday’s proceedings was taken during the meeting of the federal cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan, as confirmed by the Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry in the post-cabinet meeting press briefing.

“There will be tit for tat,” Chaudhry told the briefing, held minutes before the NA session.

He added that the cabinet discussed the matter and decided that the opposition would only be allowed to speak in the House if they agreed to listen to what the government benches had to say.