The additional voice: Deputy speaker elections announced for December 22

Published: November 28, 2015
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Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Assembly in session. PHOTO: AFP

Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Assembly in session. PHOTO: AFP

PESHAWAR: 

After much speculation about the absence of a deputy speaker, K-P Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser on Friday announced a date for elections to fill the vacant post. 

“The approved summary has been sent to the governor for his final nod after which nomination papers will be submitted on December 21 and elections will be conducted on December 22,” Qaiser announced in reply to a query of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz lawmaker Sardar Aurangzeb Nalotha. The latter criticised the fact that the slot had not been filled for more than a year, adding the current session was simply dragging on due to the empty slot.

Relief report card

The speaker postponed Friday’s agenda to continue discussion on the problems faced by earthquake victims and the government’s relief efforts. Minister for Public Health Engineering Shah Farman and Awami National Party parliamentary leader Sardar Hussain Babak had a fiery exchange as the former slammed opposition members for politicising the earthquake.

“We supported the previous government to ensure the rights of the province and participated in every all-parties conference, but ANP did not attend the briefing on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor,” said Farman.

Face off

Referring to Babak’s speech on Monday, Farman called it an attempt to politicise the earthquake.

“We issued cash cheques instead of issuing Watan Cards like you,” said Farman. Upon hearing this, Babak stood to face off against the minister. Instead of getting their point across, they both screamed at each other at the top of their lungs.

At this point, the speaker announced the session would be adjourned till Monday.

Talking to the media after the session, Babak said the speaker, who should be the custodian of the house, was acting more like a Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf activist. “If he keeps this up, such a situation will arise every day,” he said.

Babak said Farman attacked ANP because the party submitted an adjournment motion in the house to discuss the post-earthquake scenario. He said the government wanted an amendment to the local government act, but the quorum was not enough to pass it and that is why Qaiser set aside the day’s agenda.

Qaisar, however, clarified the matter was postponed as lawmakers from quake-hit areas requested for the discussion to continue.

Attack on Durrani

Earlier in the session, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl lawmakers Shah Hussain and Mufti Said Janan raised the issue of the attack on Federal Minister for Housing Akram Khan Durrani. He said it was an attack on all politicians and the federal government

“Nothing has improved. The situation remains the same and attacks are continuing under different guises,” said Hussain. “JUI-F has never engaged in the politics of guns and will never do so,” he said. “This is not just an attack on Durrani,” he said. “Some people make tall claims on television of peace, but the fact is neither ministers nor the general public are safe.” He added the government has limited itself to the city where people are checked five times a day and a huge amount of money is spent on security.

Minister for Local Government Inayatullah Khan admitted target killings and blasts continue, but claimed efforts had greatly reduced the frequency of such incidents. “I share their [JUI-F]grief and consider [the incident] an attack on all politicians.”

In the discussion on the post-earthquake scenario, JUI-F lawmaker from Buner, Mufti Fazal Ghafoor, and PML-N MPA from Shangla, Irshad Khan, lashed out at the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA). They said it was an “incompetent” body and asked the government to improve its relief management capabilities.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 28th,  2015.

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