ISLAMABAD: A day before the opposition’s anti-government protest in Lahore, the members of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and opposition Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) in the National Assembly accused each other’s leadership of working against the country’s interests as the house witnessed introduction of 10 private members bills in the minister-less house.
All the PTI lawmakers held a noisy protest when PML-N MNA from Sheikhupura Mian Javid Latif in his speech made some personal attacks on PTI chairman Imran Khan, saying that the cricketer-turned-politician also did not qualify to be Sadiq and Ameen for his “lies about his marriages”.
Mr Latif was speaking on a point of order to respond to PTI’s Murad Saeed who had earlier alleged that former prime minister Nawaz Sharif was in contact with some anti-Pakistan lobbying firms in the US which wanted to weaken the country’s armed forces.
Mr Latif castigated the opposition parties supporting the protest movement of the Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT). Without naming the PTI and the PPP, which had announced support for PAT chief Dr Tahirul Qadri over the Model Town issue, he said those talking about democracy and supremacy of the Constitution would be standing on the right and left of the person who did not believe in parliament’s supremacy. He said the people of Pakistan had already given their verdict in the recently held by-election in Chakwal.
Govt, opposition legislators call each other’s leadership ‘traitors’
When Mr Latif took his seat, a number of PTI MNAs, including Arif Alvi and Shireen Mazari, asked Deputy Speaker Murtaza Javed Abbasi to allow them to respond, but Mr Abbasi did not give them the floor, stating that it was PTI’s Murad Saeed who had started this controversy while speaking on a point of order and that he could not allow a debate on political issues as the National Assembly was to dispose of a heavy private member’s day agenda.
On the insistence of the PTI members, the deputy speaker, however, said that he would give them the floor after taking up some items on the 79-point agenda of the assembly.
Later, when PTI’s Shaharyar Afridi again demanded the floor, the deputy speaker ignored him forcing Mr Afridi to point out lack of quorum which ultimately led to the adjournment of the house till Wednesday morning.
In March last year, Mr Saeed and Mr Latif had scuffled at the entrance to the Parliament House soon after the latter in his speech on the floor of the National Assembly had harshly criticised the PTI chairman and dubbed him a “traitor”.
And this time, it was Mr Saeed who indirectly accused Mr Sharif of committing treason by working against the country’s armed forces. He alleged that during his stay in London last September, Mr Sharif had had a meeting with the members of a US lobbying firm whose main objectives were to “weaken the Pakistan Army and get Nawaz Sharif declared a champion of democracy”.
The PTI MNA said that Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif during his recent visit to Washington had presented the narrative of the country’s enemies, by declaring that Pakistan was a safe haven for terrorists and that the jihadi organisations like Lashkar-e-Taiba and Haqqani network were still operating in the country. He said it was after the foreign minister’s visit that the US put Pakistan on the watch list.
Responding to the PTI MNA’s speech, Mr Latif said that while anti-Pakistan forces were becoming united, the opposition parties were busy creating chaos in the country through sit-ins. He said it was unfortunate that they had not learnt from the history, reminding that in 1971 they had declared the then East Pakistan leadership as “traitors”.
“Today that man has been disqualified and is being dubbed as a traitor who strengthened the country’s defence by carrying out nuclear tests and who gave the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor to this country,” he said.
Without naming Imran Khan, Mr Latif said that getting married was not a crime but hiding it and lying about it was not acceptable to society.
Meanwhile, the members, mostly women, introduced 10 bills which were referred to the respective standing committees. Most of the bills were referred as no one from the treasury opposed them. The bills were introduced by the members when not a single minister was present in the house due to the meeting of the federal cabinet at the same time.
At the outset, PPP’s parliamentary leader Syed Naveed Qamar drew the attention of the chair towards the empty front rows on the other side of the aisle, saying that the government was ridiculing the parliament with such an attitude.
The opposition members staged a walkout over the absence of the ministers.
Mr Qamar pointed out lack of quorum and the deputy speaker had to adjourn the house for nearly 30 minutes.
Published in Dawn, January 17th, 2018