LAHORE, June 20: Unprintable invectives, offensive gestures, shoe hurling, political sloganeering, quorum crisis and partisan conduct of the speaker, are a few expressions that could define the Punjab Assembly proceedings on Wednesday.
The assembly proceedings lost meanings and members of the House their respect when Sheikh Allauddin, who is known for badmouthing and was at his worst even by his own standards, passed derogatory remarks against his female colleagues from the opposition.
The House lost its dignity as soon as the proceedings started and progressively descended into chaos where everyone, including the chair, turned out to be a looser.
As soon as recitation from the Holy Quran and Naat ended, Seemal Kamran of the PML-Q, on a point of order, took the floor to protest against, what she called, official connivance in power protests.
“If people are allowed to burn and rampage properties, Jati Umra (residence of the PML-N leadership) and the CM’s House would also not be safe,” she warned the House.
The Punjab government was a party to protests; encouraging, rather than stopping, protesters to torch properties of its political opponents, she lamented.
Ahmad Yar Hiraj, whose house was besieged by protesters on Tuesday, took up the matter when Seemal left.
“It is a targeted torching. The provincial government is pushing its (PML-N) workers, aided by the administrative machinery, to harm lives and properties of its political opponents. My own house was targeted and I will not attend the House until the Punjab government orders an impartial inquiry into the incident.” Saying this, he walked out of the House.
The rest of the Opposition followed him, and on its way out, pointed out the quorum. It was found lacking and ringing of the bells was ordered – but in vain.
The Speaker suspended proceedings for 15 minutes, but it allowed time to the Treasury to assemble and herd the required numbers back to the House.
As the House re-assembled at around 12:15pm, Chaudhry Zaheeruddin stood up to restart the assault.
“Mob behaviour at the houses of Hiraj and Fatyana families shows that protests are being used to persecute political opponents.
The PML-N has already lured many members away. It should now let the people live according to their conscience instead of forcing them to change their loyalties through protesters.”
The criticism did not go well with the Treasury benches and hooting started. As soon as Law Minister Rana Sanaullah stood up to respond to the charges, hooting turned into shouting, punctuated with desk-thumping.
“The Opposition is projecting one side of the picture; if they (Opposition) have constitutional protection of life and property, they also need to explain under which provision their masters are subjecting people to 22-hour loadshedding – a nerve-shattering experience. The popular anger cannot be controlled fully, even with the best of efforts unless life returns to normal.”
“On Tuesday, seven incidences of violence were reported and two lives were lost. Both these deaths took place because of firing of gunmen hired by politicians,” Rana Sana ricocheted the blame amid loud sloganeering, which was reciprocated by the Opposition, and a free-for-all shouting match started.
Amid this pandemonium, Abdul Razzaq Dhillon, a parliamentary secretary, used derogatory language against female members of the PML-Q which naturally touched their raw nerves, who responded him in the same coin. A shouting match started, where everyone stooped to new lows with unprintable abuses hurled from both sides.
It was still going on when Sheihk Allauddin took the mike, using abusive language against some of the female members. He had hardly finished his sentences when a shoe, aimed at him, was flung towards Treasury benches that missed the target. The Treasury women responded by hurling one back.
A weeping Seemal Kamran charged towards the Speaker, complaining about Dhillon’s remarks. Her other female colleagues followed her. Even women Treasury members assembled around her when they came to know about the remarks. The Treasury members assured Ms Kamran that Dhillon would retract his remarks and say sorry. But as soon as Opposition women settled down on their seats and demanded an apology from the man, Rana Sana simply refused to acknowledge any such remarks and ruled out sorry.
The Speaker shouted: “I will suspend the member who had thrown a shoe” – conveniently forgetting what Dhillon and Allauddin had said, and that too about their female colleagues.
The Opposition walked out and the Speaker started the business of the House as if nothing had happened. In the absence of the Opposition, the Treasury quickly took up and approved the demand for grants.