Opposition members Mian Raza Rabbani, Khursheed Shah and Mushaid Hussain Sayed speak to National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser at the latter’s residence on Thursday.—White Star
Opposition members Mian Raza Rabbani, Khursheed Shah and Mushaid Hussain Sayed speak to National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser at the latter’s residence on Thursday.—White Star

ISLAMABAD: A three-member opposition delegation on Thursday called on National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser at the latter’s official residence to make a formal demand for issuance of production orders for four arrested MNAs, including former president Asif Ali Zardari, to allow them to attend the ongoing budget session.

The opposition members — Syed Khursheed Shah and Senator Raza Rabbani of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) — urged the speaker to issue the production order for Mr Zardari so that he could represent the people of his Nawabshah constituency during the debate on the federal budget.

Later, an official handout was issued by the National Assembly Secretariat quoting Speaker Asad Qaiser as saying that he was cognisant of his responsibilities and was playing his constitutional role.

The speaker said that he was the custodian of the house and all the members were being treated with equality. He said the PPP and the PML-N members had requested him to issue the production order for Mr Zardari.

Ex-president undergoes medical check-up at cardiology institute

The speaker said that he had told the opposition members that he had solicited legal advice from legal experts; therefore, a decision in this regard would be taken after receipt of the advice in question.

The official handout stated that on the directives of the speaker, the National Assembly Secretariat had sought a legal opinion from the Ministry of Law and Justice on the request of the PPP for issuance of Mr Zardari’s production order.

Talking to reporters after meeting Mr Qaiser, PPP’s Khursheed Shah said the speaker had sought some more time to consider their request and had promised that he would play his parliamentary role.

When asked if they had only raised the issue of production order for Mr Zardari, Mr Shah said the PPP had already asked the speaker through a letter to issue the production orders for the two MNAs from the erstwhile Federally Admin­i­­stered Tribal Areas, Moh­sin Dawar and Ali Wazir, who were in jail on charges of attacking an army post in North Waziristan last month.

Similarly, he said, the speaker should issue the production order for the PML-N MNA from Lahore, Khawaja Saad Rafique.

Mr Shah said a speaker was not a part of the government and was considered to be a custodian of the house.

Former Senate chairman Raza Rabbani said he believed that the speaker realised that the members from tribal areas, Lahore and Nawabshah should be allowed to represent their constituents who were being taxed in the budget.

In response to a question, Mr Rabbani said he stood by his earlier statement that there was a need for an intra-institutional dialogue in the country presently facing a “crisis of state”, besides the crises of economy and national security.

A PPP delegation had also visited the residence of the speaker on Wednesday evening, but they could not meet him as he was in his hometown of Swabi.

Medical check-up

Mr Zardari, who is under custody of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on an 11-day physical remand, was taken to the Rawalpindi Institute of Cardiology (RIC) for a medical check-up on Thursday evening.

A NAB team took the former president to the hospital from Islamabad and his computed tomography (CT) angiography and other tests were conducted under the supervision of retired Major General Azhar Mehmood Kia­­ni, the director of the RIC.

A senior doctor of the RIC told Dawn that the routine check-up of Mr Zardari was done to evaluate his health condition. He said the initial report verified that the former president was suffering from cardiac disease.

He said the former president was kept in the hospital for a few hours under observation after CT angiography.

Later, NAB issued a statement, saying that two medical boards had been examining Mr Zardari on a daily basis.

“The health condition of the former president is good and this visit is for routine medical check-up on the advice of the medical boards,” it said.

Aamir Yasin in Rawalpindi also contributed to the report

Published in Dawn, June 14th, 2019