The lower house of the Parliament witnesses Friday another round of verbal brawl between the treasury and opposition benches as the focus of the proceedings shifted from budget to the maltreatment to the opposition lawmakers Shaikh Rashid Ahmed and Jamshaid Khan Dasti.
However, this time around the leaders of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) became target of the attacks from the treasury benches who got infuriated over the raising of the issue of privilege of another opposition lawmaker Shaikh Rashid Ahmed.
It was Leader of the Opposition Khurshid Shah who raised the issue on a point of order asking the National Assembly Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq to investigate how Malik Noor Awan, the president of PML-N Japan, had been allowed to enter the Parliament House premises and manhandled Shaikh Rashid.
Shah also accused the government of insulting the members of Parliament by using the organs of the state. Shah also raised the voice against the arrest of another fellow opposition member Jamshaid Khan Dasti who has been arrested by Punjab Police. Dasti and Shaikh Rashid are lone members in the parliament and are a part of the opposition.
Shah asked the speaker that being a custodian of the house, he should not act like a ‘butcher’. This infuriated the speaker who responded, ‘Did you call the chair a butcher’?
‘Yes, I uttered this word as this is viral these days,” responded undeterred Shah, leaving the speaker high and dry. Shah asked the chair to investigate the entire matter how Malik Noor entered the Parliament building passing through strict security if he wanted to protect the sanctity of the chair.
He argued that according to reports, Deputy Speaker Murtaza Javed Abbasi had facilitated entry of Malik Noor through pass, pointing fingers directly at the ruling party.
Shah also waved the photographs of Malik Noor, who had specially brought to the assembly, depicting him photographed with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar and others, saying that it was a planned move to insult Shaikh Rasheed.
He said that Noor Awan had also been photographed with PML-N’s Nehal Hashmi which suggested that he was a pawn of the same plan as was Hashmi and both had full backing from the ruling party.
Ayaz Sadiq, baffled by the successive attacks by the leader of the opposition, directed the Parliament House Secretariat to thoroughly probe the matter and submit a detailed report. Shah reminded the chair that democratic governments came into power through the public support and the Constitution provided guidelines on running the state.
“The government is answerable to Parliament. We thought we had strengthened democracy by the democratic transfer of power,” pointed out Shah. He said that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s pictures with Malik Noor were viral but his photos were viral with former military dictator General Zia-ul-Haq too.
This comment, perhaps, proved to be last straw to break the camel’s back as State Minister for Water & Power Abid Sher Ali stood up and started speaking while Shah continued his speech.
While Abid taunted Shah of ‘criminals related to Zardari’ including Ayyan Ali, Dr Asim Hussain and Sharjeel Memon, the speaker directed the minister to stop as no one was allowed to interrupt a fellow lawmaker – what to talk about leader of the opposition who is allowed to speak whenever needed.
Fellow ministers Sheikh Aftab and Rana Tanveer Hussain also tried their best to stop Abid Sher but he did not listen to them and continued speaking. ‘Do not get personal’, Shah said while responding to Abid’s taunts. ‘Please don’t tell me what to say. This is Parliament; it is not someone’s shop’, he retorted. ‘You want to suppress the voice of everyone here’, Abid responded.
Shah reminded Abid when he was mistreated in Pervez Musharraf’s era, the PPP had stood by him. ‘We stood by you when your father was mistreated too’, reminded Shah. Abid Sher Ali said that the PPP government had kept his family in Sahiwal jail over a Kalashnikov [arms possession] case. “What democracy are you [PPP] talking about?” argued Abid Sher.
“I know why your father went to jail,” intervened Aijaz Jakhrani of PPP. Sadiq, attempting to tamp the rapidly deteriorating situation, had to postpone the session and summon Shah and other ministers to his chambers.