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ISLAMABAD: Speaker Asad Qaiser has convened a National Assembly session on Oct 17 and issued orders for the production of leader of the opposition Mian Shahbaz Sharif who has been in the custody of National Accountability Bureau in the Ashiyana housing scam.

“….The Speaker considers presence of Mian Shahbaz Sharif, MNA/ leader of the opposition during the said session necessary, therefore in exercise of powers conferred upon by Rule 108 of the rules of procedure and conduct of the business in the National Assembly 2007, the Honourable Speaker has been pleased to summon Mian Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif MNA, leader of the opposition to attend the said session in the parliament house, Islamabad. You are therefore directed to produce Mian Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif MNA, leader of the opposition, at the commencement of each sitting of the said session before the sergeant-at-arms, who shall, after conclusion of the sitting, deliver him to your custody,” the production order reads.

Copies of the production order have been sent to NAB chairman, interior secretary, NAB director general in Lahore, Punjab chief secretary, additional chief secretary, Inspector General of Police, Inspector General (Prisons), and Chief Commissioner, Islamabad.

A requisition for convening an NA session had been submitted with the National Assembly secretariat on October 5 — the day when Mr Sharif had been arrested by NAB in the Ashiyana housing scam. According to the requisition, the agenda of the session is ‘arbitrary arrest’ of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz president.

A day after the submission of the requisition, a delegation of opposition members called on Speaker Asad Qaiser and demanded convening of a session immediately and issuance of production order to allow the leader of the opposition to attend the session.

The delegation comprising PML-N chairman and leader of the opposition in the Senate Raja Zafarul Haq, former NA speaker Ayaz Sadiq, Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl leader Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri and PML-N lawmaker Rana Tanvir had met the speaker at his residence. Requesting him to summon the NA session during which they could raise the issue of Mr Sharif’s arrest, they informed the speaker that a requisition had already been submitted to the NA secretariat. Speaker Qaiser assured them that the session would be called within 14 days as per rules. Under the rules, the Speaker is bound to convene a session on requisition within 14 days. In this case, the 14-day deadline will end on October 19.

The opposition in the Senate has also been agitating the issue of Mr Sharif’s arrest for past some days, terming the move ‘contempt of the parliament’.

The government, however, claims the NAB is not under the administrative control of the government and argues that complaints against the PML-N president had been lodged even before the PTI came into power.

Published in Dawn, October 11th, 2018