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Awan rejects reports that PM told PTI MNAs not to let parliament function

Updated June 19, 2019

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Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information Firdous Ashiq Awan addressing a press conference in Islamabad on Wednesday. — DawnNewsTV
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information Firdous Ashiq Awan addressing a press conference in Islamabad on Wednesday. — DawnNewsTV

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information Firdous Ashiq Awan on Wednesday denied reports that the prime minister had instructed his party members "to not let the parliament function", as the government and opposition finally agreed not to disrupt debate on the budget in the National Assembly.

A National Assembly session was convened three days after the Budget 2019-2020 was presented to take up the finance bill. However, the sessions which began on June 14 were repeatedly disrupted by members of both, the opposition and the treasury benches.

An earlier Dawn report stated that a strategy to create a rumpus in the house had apparently been finalised at a Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf parliamentary group meeting presided over by Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Read more: Defiant treasury members embarrass National Assembly speaker

A participant of the meeting had told Dawn that some PTI members were of the view that the opposition had not missed any chance to humiliate the prime minister and ministers in the National Assembly and despite repeated assurance to the speaker, the opposition was bent upon its tactics to disrupt the proceedings.

He said that PTI members agreed that the government had met all demands of the opposition regarding probe into alleged rigging in the last general elections and reviewing the accountability laws, but the opposition had decided not to let the speaker to run the house smoothly.

"It is the height of the opposition’s hooliganism. Therefore, the PTI has decided to give a similar response to the opposition by blocking speeches of opposition leaders by different means," said a PTI lawmaker, confirming that the prime minister had also urged them to act "aggressively" for the passage of the federal budget presented by the government on June 11.

Firdous Ashiq Awan, while addressing a press conference today, rejected "the baseless, fabricated and negative propaganda being circulated by the media which suggests that Prime Minister Imran Khan has instructed party members to not let the parliament function".

"The prime minister believes in the supremacy of institutions, and in his dream to empower institutions, the parliament comes foremost," said Awan.

However, she said, "If the parliament does not rid itself of this hostage-taking group, then it will be unable to empower itself to guarantee the protection of the fundamental rights of the people."

Awan warned that "opposition members who are no longer in power [...] who take part in the All-Parties' Conference, who have remained outside the corridors of power, and who enter Parliament through the backdoor, will not be able to derail Prime Minister Imran Khan from his mission."

"These people who are out to bully us will not be able to hurt the passage of the budget, and it will be passed by the representatives of the government," she vowed.

Awan's comments appear to be a reference to opposition parties, including the PPP, PML-N and JUI-F, that have been holding meetings with each other to muster up a coordinated strategy against the government. The parties are also trying to gain the support of the BNP-Mengal, which had supported the ruling party in the parliamentary elections, but is dissatisfied with lack of implementation of a six-point accord agreed upon with the PTI in August last year.

JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman has already announced that his party is arranging a multi-party conference (MPC) of the opposition parties next week to devise an anti-government strategy.