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Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry barred from Senate session

Updated November 15, 2018

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Fawad Chaudhry has been barred from attending the ongoing Senate session. — File
Fawad Chaudhry has been barred from attending the ongoing Senate session. — File

Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani on Thursday barred Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry from attending the ongoing Senate session over his failure to tender an apology to the upper house.

Over the past month, the information minister and opposition members have clashed bitterly in the parliament over the former's invective, forcing the latter to demand an apology, and briefly boycott the session.

After the Senate session began today, the opposition reiterated their demand for Chaudhry to apologise, with opposition leader Raja Zafarul Haq telling Sanjrani: "There has been a lot of bad blood in the house and it is affecting the house's pride.

"We do not have any other solution to this than just walk out. Until an apology is tendered, the rest is all meaningless."

Senator Hasil Bizenjo was more assertive with the opposition's demand, saying: "Until this person comes here and asks the entire parliament for an apology, the opposition will not [attend]."

Leader of the House Shibli Faraz suggested that the record of Chaudhry and Senator Mushahidullah Khan's statements be analysed by a committee, and offered an apology on his fellow PTI leader's behalf.

Subsequently, the opposition staged a walkout, following which Chairman Sanjrani gave a ruling, directing Chaudhry to tender an apology.

PPP Senator Sherry Rehman concurred with her fellow opposition members, telling the Senate chair that "if the information minister thinks he can insult your [position] then we will not tolerate this and we will boycott the session".

Rehman took aim at Chaudhry's choice of words, saying: "Ministers do not talk like this. They are even insulting your honour. We did not even see such ruckus in Ziaul Haq's era. We will not let such behaviour become a norm."

She also demanded that Chaudhry apologise to the house or else "we will run the parliament outside the parliament".

At this, the chairman issued a ruling that "all members are bound to respect the chairman and leaders of the house and opposition."

Sanjrani ordered Chaudhry to come to the Senate and tender his apology, making it clear that failure to do so on the minister's part will get him banned from attending the session.

The federal minister's failure to oblige to the ruling led the chairman to impose the bar on him.

On October 3, matters had come to a head after a scathing verbal duel in the house between Chaudhry and Senator Mushahidullah Khan, with the latter insisting that the minister apologise over his comments about corruption that he made in the lower house of parliament the previous Thursday.

Following the barbed exchanges, the Senate had witnessed unprecedented scenes when the information minister was asked to leave the upper house of parliament after he refused to tender an apology over remarks that had offended the opposition.

Khattak conveys PM Khan’s message to Sanjrani

Following the imposition of ban on Chaudhry from attending the Senate session earlier in the day, Defence Minister Pervez Khattak went to meet Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani in the evening, DawnNewsTV reported.

Khattak had brought a special message from the PM and both the leaders deliberated over devising a strategy to conduct the Upper House's session based on mutual understanding.

The defence minister conveyed the PM Khan's full cooperation in the matter for which the chairman expressed his gratitude.

"In acting timely and sending Pervez Khattak, the prime minister has elevated the House's honour," Sanjrani said, adding that PM Khan's role in upholding the Parliament's supremacy is praise-worthy.