NA prorogued sine die without debate on mini-budget

Updated 26 Jan 2019

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Angry opposition stages walkout over PM aide’s tweets about Shahbaz and speaker’s attitude.
Angry opposition stages walkout over PM aide’s tweets about Shahbaz and speaker’s attitude.

ISLAMABAD: In an unprecedented move, the National Assembly was prorogued sine die on Friday even before a debate on mini-budget could be opened after brief proceedings marred by a walkout and a protest by the opposition.

A former interior minister, while raising the issue of a series of tweets by Prime Minister’s Special Assistant Naeemul Haq in the house, accused Speaker Asad Qaiser of making a compromise on the issue.

Ahsan Iqbal was referring to a series of tweets by Mr Haque who threatened to revoke Shahbaz Sharif’s production order after the opposition’s protest in the house.

Angry opposition stages walkout over PM aide’s tweets about Shahbaz and speaker’s attitude

“Pathetic behaviour by Shahbaz Sharif, the illegitimate child of Zia’s Martial Law and his corrupt chamchas in the NA. The violation by opposition of the agreement reached before presentation of the Finance Bill by Asad is condemnable. Time to revoke Shahbaz’s production order,” Mr Haque had tweeted.

“Shahbaz better decide if he wants to play a positive role in NA and instruct his chamchas to behave.

“How dare he and his chamchas make personal attacks on PM in the NA. Does he want to spend more time in jail sulking? Does he want his production order to be revoked? Last chance.

“If Shahbaz wants to come to NA to abuse the PM and encourage his chamchas to do the same then he should know that the production order is not meant for this. He must make a commitment to abide by the decisions of the Ethics Committee and the Rules of Business,” Mr Haque had said.

Speaker Qaiser, however, rejected the allegation of making any compromise and told Mr Iqbal his remarks were inappropriate and asked him not to behave like this.

“I am not influenced by tweets. You should not worry. I will run the house proceedings as I deem fit,” the speaker said.

Former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi raised the issue of objectionable remarks against top opposition leadership by a minister and said the house could not be run like this.

“If you are not interested in running the house, it is up to you,” he remarked.

Both Mr Iqbal and Mr Abbasi spoke with their mikes switched off. When former prime minister Raja Pervez Ashraf objected to Murad Saeed’s remarks against political leadership, Mr Saeed stood up again.

Many leaders from the opposition, including Mr Abbasi, Khawaja Saad Rafique and Naveed Qamar wanted to speak but they were not given the floor by the speaker, prompting a walkout by the opposition.

The proceedings of the house remained suspended for some time after quorum issue was pointed out by Mr Qamar and the house was not found in order.

When the NA resumed its proceedings, the house adopted a motion moved by parliamentary affairs minister to authorise the speaker to include any member and make such changes in the composition of standing committees as and when he deemed fit.

The opposition members entered the house when it was in the process of carrying out legislative business for passage of a bill to increase the sanctioned strength of Islamabad High Court (IHC) judges from six to nine.

Mr Abbasi pointed out that the entire opposition had opposed the bill to amend the Islamabad High Court Act, 2010, adding that the government had failed to explain the need for increasing the number of IHC judges. He also moved an amendment to the bill seeking to make it mandatory for IHC judges to declare their assets for the last five years and taxes paid by them.

The amendment was opposed by the government.

The bill was finally passed by the house with a majority vote, rejecting the amendments moved by the opposition.

Published in Dawn, January 26th, 2019