ISLAMABAD: Ruckus dominated the proceedings of the National Assembly on Friday over the ongoing controversy surrounding the violent incident at a military check post in North Waziristan tribal district and shortage of water in Sindh as outraged members from the treasury and opposition benches gathered in front of the speaker’s dais and hurled accusations at each other, but stopped short of coming to blows.
Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Mohammad Khan delivered a fiery speech and asked Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri, who was presiding over the session, to cancel the membership of Mohsin Dawar and Ali Wazir for their alleged involvement in ‘anti-state’ activities.
He said both MNAs were responsible for the recent attack on security check post at Kharqamar in North Waziristan. “It is because of your wrongdoings my people lost their lives,” he said, adding that both Ali Wazir and Mohsin Dawar had no right to sit in parliament and the country had no place for them.
“We have given refuge to over 3.5 million Afghans after Russia-Afghanistan war in 1979, but in return for our sacrifice the body of SP Dawar is found in Afghanistan. Can we ask the Afghan government why his body was found in Afghanistan,” he added.
Mr Khan wondered why the Afghan authorities had insisted that they would hand over the body of the police officer to what he called a ‘sold out individual, a stooge and their loyalist’ who was cutting the roots of Pakistan.
Without directly naming the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM), the minister asked why Pakistan’s flag, its army and other institutions were maligned in its public meetings. He said Prime Minister Imran Khan had been fighting for the rights of the people of tribal areas for the last 25 years.
The ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) lawmakers took to the speaker’s rostrum when the opposition Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) members protested over non-production of Ali Wazir and Mohsin Dawar who are currently under custody in connection with the North Waziristan incident.
This was followed by an open clash between the members of the two parties as Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) also joined the ruling party by displaying placards against the performance of the PPP-led Sindh government. As the pandemonium geared up, Deputy Speaker Suri adjourned the session for an indefinite period.
PPP leader Farhatullah Babar termed the ruling party’s agitation “preplanned” and an attempt to block the speech of PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari who planned to take on the government over the arrest of the two parliamentarians from the tribal region and derogatory remarks of Ali Mohammad Khan.
Meanwhile, the PPP submitted a privilege motion over the arrest of two PPP women MNAs during a clash with police on Wednesday.
The pandemonium broke out when Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Khurram Dastagir raised the issue of SP Tahir Dawar who was abducted from Islamabad in October last year and his body was found Afghanistan.
“The government is totally silent on the issue. We want to know who had abducted Tahir Dawar and what happened when officials went to Afghanistan to take his body,” he added.
At this, Minister for States and Frontier Regions Sheryar Afridi said Dawar was son of the soil and a brave man who had earlier survived two attempts on his life and lost his brother in Banigala, Islamabad. He said that being then interior minister when he went to Afghanistan to take the body of SP Dawar, but authorities in the neighbouring country were not ready to hand over the body to him but to PTM leader Manzoor Pashteen. The minister said MNA Mohsin Dawar was sent and the SP’s body was given to him.
About blocking of Computerised National Identity Cards (CNICs) of hundreds of Pashtuns, Mr Afridi said a law had been made in the past under which suspect Pashtuns had to provide proofs of their nationality before the 1979 Afghan war as the authorities believed that many Afghans had mingled with the Pashtun community taking advantage of their resemblance with Pashtuns.
Jamaluddin, an MNA from tribal areas, said when the body of SP Dawar was to be taken from Afghanistan then MNA Mohsin Dawar was sent to receive it, but now the same lawmaker had been taken into custody with another MNA of tribal areas Ali Wazir. He feared that if the two MNAs were no released and if the situation in erstwhile Fata was not controlled, the government would not be able to handle the worst situation there.
When Ali Mohammad Khan was speaking on the floor of the house, members of the PTI went to the speaker’s dais and all opposition members stood up on their seats. Mr Bhutto-Zardari also spoke vehemently and the PPP members proceeded to the speaker’s dais.
The PTI’s protest against the PPP government in Sindh seemed to be a planned one as they had brought placards with them inscribed with slogans like “Sindh ko Pani Do” (give water to Sindh). The members of both PPP and PTI pushed each other and the former torn placards carried by the latter. During the rumpus, the deputy speaker adjourned the session for an indefinite period.
Later, leaders of the opposition parties held a press conference outside the Parliament House and criticised the deputy speaker for not allowing them to speak on the floor of the house.
PPP chairman Bhutto-Zardari reiterated his demand for issuance of production order for Ali Wazir and Mohsin Dawar and said he had written a letter to Speaker Asad Qaiser for the purpose. Parliament should follow its own rules and laws, he added.
The PPP chairman said the deputy speaker had violated the rules by not allowing any opposition member to speak on the floor of the house, while members from the treasury benches were free to talk.
PML-N leader Shahid Khaqan Abbasi strongly condemned the arrest of PPP’s women MNAs during the appearance of Bhutto-Zardari in NAB headquarters.
Balochistan National Party (BNP-M) chief Akhtar Mangal said he was surprised by dictatorship in democracy.
Published in Dawn, June 1st, 2019