Hamza announces PML-N boycott of Punjab Assembly

Updated 19 Oct 2018

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Leader of the Opposition in the Punjab Assembly Hamza Shahbaz. ─ DawnNewsTV
Leader of the Opposition in the Punjab Assembly Hamza Shahbaz. ─ DawnNewsTV

Leader of the Opposition in the Punjab Assembly Hamza Shahbaz on Friday warned that the PML-N would boycott the assembly unless six suspended MPAs were permitted to participate in sessions.

Shahbaz was referring to MPAs Malik Muhammad Waheed (PP-156), Muhammad Ashraf Rasool (PP-137), Muhammad Mirza Javed (PP-172), Tariq Masih Gill (NM-371), Zaib-un-Nisa Awam, Muhammad Yasin Amir (PP-162), who were earlier this week issued show-cause notices and banned from attending the ongoing budget session by Speaker Pervaiz Elahi for allegedly "attacking the assembly staff, damaging the furniture and using abusive language about the government".

Shahbaz, speaking outside the PA, said that his party would boycott the assembly unless Elahi's demeanour changed and the temporarily barred MPAs' "honour is not restored".

The PML-N also held a protest outside the PA today against the non-entry of the MPAs to the assembly building.

Rowdyism in the Punjab Assembly

This photograph of the Punjab Assembly premises shows damaged furniture and torn up copies of the budget after Tuesday's rowdy session. ─ Dawn/File
This photograph of the Punjab Assembly premises shows damaged furniture and torn up copies of the budget after Tuesday's rowdy session. ─ Dawn/File

On Tuesday, rowdyism marred the all-important budget session of the Punjab Assembly, with treasury and opposition members coming to blows during the provincial finance minister's speech.

Charged PML-N MPAs wearing black armbands stood on their seats when the speaker did not allow Malik Muhammad Ahmad to speak on a point of order. The speaker said as the finance minister was to present the budget speech, no point of order could be taken before it.

Reacting to it, many opposition members stood on the seats while others came right in front of the speaker’s dais and started chanting slogans against the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government and Prime Minister Imran Khan.

The opposition lawmakers forced the assembly staff sitting on the front row to leave the bench for them and even went to the extent of tearing the budget copies which they threw at the treasury members. They also shouted slogans, making it difficult for Finance Minister Hashim Jawan Bakht to be audible during his speech.

The protest took an ugly turn when lawmakers Tariq Masih Gill and Malik Waheed tried to pick up the chair of the assembly staff next to the speaker. This prompted the speaker’s sergeant-at-arms to intervene but the lawmakers shoved him back. Many PTI MPAs moved forward and this led to a scuffle between the opposition and treasury members.

Opposition Leader Hamza Shahbaz and senior PTI legislators then intervened and stopped their ‘charged’ members, but the hullabaloo continued till the finance minister concluded the speech and introduced the Punjab Finance Bill 2018.

Hamza Shahbaz today raised questions over the authenticity of the photograph of the Punjab Assembly following the session. The photograph showed damaged furniture and torn-up copies of the budget littering the floor.

"The fake speaker took a fake step," he alleged, referring to the release of the photograph. The opposition leader claimed that the assembly houses benches, not chairs, and called for a committee to probe the authenticity of the photograph.

"All members of the assembly are my family, and I will stand with them. I will not go to the assembly until they are allowed in," he added.