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Drama in National Assembly over NAB delay in producing Shahbaz

Updated October 29, 2018

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Opposition leader Shahbaz Sharif and PPP co-chairman enter the National Assembly together on Monday. — DawnNewsTV
Opposition leader Shahbaz Sharif and PPP co-chairman enter the National Assembly together on Monday. — DawnNewsTV

The opposition in the National Assembly on Monday staged a walkout in protest against the alleged "deliberate" delay on the part of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in producing Shahbaz Sharif for the session.

As per Speaker Asad Qaiser's production orders, the NAB Lahore team was directed to produce Sharif, the opposition leader, for the session of the lower house at 4pm.

Although the PML-N president was flown to the capital from Lahore for the previous session, he was driven to the city via the motorway today. NAB authorities also took him to Islamabad's Polyclinic for a check-up before the NA session.

Sharif's delayed arrival in the Parliament House meant that he could not chair a meeting of PML-N's parliamentary party, scheduled for an hour before the session's start. In his absence, senior leaders Ahsan Iqbal and Khawaja Asif jointly led the meeting.

Talking to reporters after reaching the parliament, Sharif said NAB had avoided bringing up via airplane on the pretext of different reasons.

"They didn't want to bring me [to Islamabad] in an airplane," the opposition leader claimed, adding that the bureau had used the suspension of flight and unavailability of seats as an excuse.

"I was made to travel via the motorway despite an ache in my back," he said.

Speaking in the assembly, PML-N lawmaker Rana Tanveer Hussain said NAB had caused a "deliberate" delay in producing the opposition leader.

"NAB was supposed to bring the opposition leader for the session at 4pm," he said, adding that the speaker's production orders had not been complied with.

Boycotting the session, PML-N members then staged a walkout in protest. They were joined by the PPP and other opposition parties.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi urged the opposition members to end their boycott, saying "if this institution has to move forward, it has to do so using both its wheels [treasury and opposition]".

"[I] request the respected members of the opposition to not render the entire house meaningless in this manner," he said.

Speaker Qaiser then assigned Qureshi and State Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan the task of convincing the opposition members to return to the house.

The duo managed to cajole the opposition into returning to the session, with Qureshi thanking them for ending the boycott.

When the session resumed after an evening prayer break, Sharif was seen entering the assembly along with PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari, who has been pulling out all the stops in recent days to unite the oppositon against the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government.

During today's session, the speaker administered the oath of office to 10 out of the 12 MNAs-elect who were elected in the by-polls earlier this month. Two prospective lawmakers were not present in the session.

Resolution against Kashmir violence adopted

Also on Monday, the NA unanimously passed a resolution condemning Indian state atrocities in occupied Kashmir.

"This house condemns Indian atrocities and aggression [in Kashmir]," read the resolution presented by Federal Minister for Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit Baltistan Ali Amin Gandapur.

"The international community should notice of Indian aggression and violations of human rights," it said, stressing that the Kashmir issue should be resolved in light of United Nations Security Council resolutions.

Speaking on the issue, Gandapur noted that some 90,000 people have been killed by Indian forces in occupied Kashmir till date. As many as 140,000 people have been imprisoned and more than 13,000 women have been widowed, he added.