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ISLAMABAD: It took over two hours for the opposition and the treasury on the opening day of the new session of the National Assembly to come on the same page over “unanimous” passage of a resolution denouncing India for its “baseless propaganda” against Pakistan over the recent Pulwama attack.

Furious over the alleged ‘insulting’ attitude of the government towards the opposition during the recent visit of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman and the arrest of Sindh Assembly Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani by the National Accountability Bureau from Islamabad on Wednesday, the opposition succeeded in its move of preventing Prime Minister Imran Khan or any minister from reading out the resolution.

The opposition which in principle had no objection to the contents of the resolution only agreed to extend its support to it on the condition that it would be read out by NA Speaker Asad Qaiser himself. It also wanted the speaker to issue the production order for Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader Khawaja Saad Rafique.

As the session started after a two-and-a-half hours delay, a nervous-looking speaker, after administering the oath to a newly elected MNA, read out the two-page resolution and immediately adjourn­ed the proceedings till Thursday morning without taking up any agenda item.

Speaker reads out text after opposition disallows any treasury member to do it

Sources in the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) told Dawn that it was after the opposition’s refusal to give a patient hearing to Prime Minister Imran Khan without giving them an opportunity to speak that Mr Khan preferred not to attend the sitting despite the fact that he was present in the Parliament House building.

The sources said the speaker had been assigned the task to hold talks with the opposition to ensure smooth proceedings so that the prime minister could attend the sitting, but he failed due to “unusual aggression” shown by the opposition members. They said the PTI members were also unhappy over the timing of the arrest of the Sindh Assembly speaker, saying that the action had fuelled the already tense political atmosphere.

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader Syed Khursheed Shah told Dawn that the opposition wanted to seek an explanation from the prime minister over his decision of not inviting them to the official engagements of the Saudi crown prince.

He said the opposition also wanted to raise the issue of the arrest of the Sindh Assembly speaker but the PTI was not ready to allow them to speak.

When contacted, Minister for Information Fawad Chaudhry said that the prime minister had come to the Parliament House to attend the party’s parliamentary meeting.

When asked if the prime minister wanted to speak on the Kashmir issue in the assembly, he said Mr Khan would come to the house during the ongoing session which would continue till March 1.

RESOLUTION: The NA unanimously passed the resolution, stating that “this House strongly rejects the baseless Indian allegations seeking to link the attack on the convoy of Central Reserve Police Force in Pulwama, Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IoK) to Pakistan without investigation and any shared of evidence”.

The house “condemns Indian kneejerk reaction where instead of introspection on its repressive policies against the people of IoK denying their right of self-determination, India has again sought to shift the blame to Pakistan through baseless polemic and provocative rhetoric”.

The NA “recalls the statements by heads of all political parties and the prime minister’s statement of 19 February 2019, offering Pakistan’s assistance to India in investigations of this attack and to take action on actionable intelligence or evidence”.

The house also “strongly denounces the continuing reprisal attacks on Kashmiris in IoK and targeting of Kashmiri students in India after the Pulwama attack”.

The resolution “stresses that India’s smear campaign should not delude and obscure the real issues of the human rights nightmare and humanitarian emergency prevalent in IoK due to the Indian atrocities”.

The NA “emphasises that no one should underestimate Pakistan’s resolve to defend itself against any act of aggression”.

Earlier, talking to reporters outside the Parliament House, Mr Chaudhry said that India wanted Pakistan to quit the case against Kulbhushan Jadhav. He termed the India’s call for releasing and repatriating Jadhav “a childish demand”.

He said that instead of contesting elections on the basis of their performance, the Indian rulers had resorted to Pakistan bashing, creating tension in the region.

“In fact India has been isolated internationally. The EU, Islamic countries and even the statement by President Trump has shown that the world has rejected the notion presented by India,” he added.

Published in Dawn, February 21st, 2019