ISLAMABAD: Amidst the opposition’s noisy protest during the presidential speech, a lone dissenter from within the ranks of ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) was drowned out, escaping almost everyone’s attention.
The protest by MNA Syed Nasir Shah, who remained ‘silent’ when the National Assembly speaker did not grant him the floor prior to the president’s speech, aimed to draw attention to the plight of Balochistan.
“I hope ... my ‘silent protest’ will trigger a powerful debate on the Balochistan issue at an international level,” Shah told The Express Tribune. “I must say here today -- PPP’s top leadership buried the party’s manifesto the day Benazir Bhutto was assassinated.”
After being refused the floor, Shah left the chambers within five minutes, saying that nobody was willing to listen to him. “Being a lone protester from the PPP, I will continue to raise my voice against the incumbent government which has failed to address the grievances of the Baloch,” he said angrily, adding that the president and the prime minister had not fulfilled their promises. Shah also encouraged other lawmakers from both the treasury and opposition benches to join him in boycotting the next joint session of Parliament scheduled for next week. He will continue his ‘silent protest’ without handing in his resignation to the National Assembly speaker who, Shah says, has always refused to give him the floor.
The PPP lawmaker added that Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani has previously requested him to quit his protest, assuring him that his demands would be fulfilled by the PPP’s top leadership. Another incumbent Senator from Balochistan, Humayun Khan Mandokhail, also staged a walkout over unrest in his troubled province, while shouting: “Stop target killings in Balochistan”. Mandokhail, who is an independent lawmaker, also boycotted the last session saying, “The Aghaz-e-Haqooq-e-Balochistan (package) stopped in its track.”
Mandokhail told The Express Tribune that one thing was clear – that lawmakers from Balochistan could not unite on a single platform when it comes to solutions for the troubled province.
“The reason behind non-cooperation amongst Baloch leaders and the provincial and federal governments is a lack of political will and personal interests of the stakeholders,” he said. “But I’ll try my best to ensure some unity.”
Published in The Express Tribune, March 18th, 2012.
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