ISLAMABAD: It was after Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari broke the news about the arrest of PML-N vice president Maryam Nawaz on the floor of the National Assembly on Thursday that the house witnessed another repeat of an ugly drama, with almost the same characters creating the same scenes with uncontrollable mayhem, prompting the chair to abruptly adjourn the proceedings without taking up any agenda item.
As soon as Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri declared the Question Hour over and read out the leave applications of the members, the PPP chairman entered the assembly hall and sought the floor, which he was immediately given before the members could take up the lengthy 144-point agenda issued for the regular session resumed after a two-day joint sitting of parliament on Kashmir.
“We were sitting in the doors lobby when we heard the news on TV that Maryam Nawaz has been arrested,” Mr Bhutto-Zardari told the house amid slogans of “shame, shame” from the backbencher opposition members.
“An opposition leader who is a woman has been arrested by this government,” he continued.
The PPP chairman said his family had been in politics for generations and had witnessed many bad times, but they had never seen such things. It was only during the military regime of dictator Gen Ziaul Haq that they had seen political victimisation of women opponents.
House witnesses verbal duel between members of PPP and MQM
“We are now again witnessing it in new dictatorial Pakistan. You have become so Beghairat (dishonoured). If you want to fight, fight with men. If you want to arrest, come and arrest men,” an emotional Bhutto-Zardari said before announcing a walkout from the house amid loud sloganeering from both sides of the aisle.
The PPP members staged the walkout, but the PML-N members remained in the house as they wanted to speak, but the deputy speaker gave the floor to hot-headed MNA from Swat and Minister for Communications Murad Saeed to respond to the PPP chairman. The PML-N members protested the deputy speaker’s move and gathered in front of his dais and raised full-throated slogans “say no to selected prime minister”.
Mr Saeed, however, continued his speech in which he made personal attacks on Mr Bhutto-Zardari, calling him a “shameless person” and an “accidental chairman” of the party. Ignoring the chaos around him, the minister in his usual aggressive style accused both Maryam Nawaz and Mr Bhutto-Zardari of making a hue and cry only because their fathers were in jail on corruption charges.
Mr Saeed alleged that the PPP had plundered the country, usurped resources of Sindh and made Karachi a garbage dump and now Bilawal was acting in an indecent manner and hurling threats at the government as a “spokesman for a family of plunderers”.
“Your father is in jail. Your phuppo (aunt) is in jail for corruption. And you have no shame,” the minister went on saying as Mr Suri failed to control the situation after refusal of the opposition members to return to their seats.
The helpless deputy speaker abruptly adjourned the sitting till Friday morning after failing to maintain order in the house and left the chair when the treasury and opposition members were still chanting slogans against each other.
The members then took their fight outside the Parliament House and kept on raising slogans at the main entrance for some time before separately addressing news conferences.
Earlier, at the outset of the sitting, the house had witnessed a verbal clash between the members of the PPP and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM).
Speaking on a point of order, MQM leader and Minister for Information Technology Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui pointed out that in his speech during the joint session of parliament on Wednesday, former president Asif Ali Zardari had passed some objectionable remarks against the Urdu-speaking people known as Muhajirs (refugees).
Mr Siddiqui took exception to Mr Zardari’s statement in which he had stated that those migrated from India had no contribution towards the Pakistan Movement and that when they reached Pakistan, it was the people of Sindh who welcomed them.
The MQM leader said they were proud of being called Muhajirs and accused Mr Zardari of negating Pakistan’s ideology. He said Mr Zardari’s speech was based on “Indian agenda”. He said their forefathers had left more wealth in India than collected by Mr Zardari through “loot and plunder”.
Responding to Mr Siddiqui’s speech, Abdul Qadir Patel of the PPP regretted that the MQM members remained on higher positions and even became presidents and governors, but they still called them Muhajirs. He said previously they used to talk about Jinnahpur and when they were taken to task, they had now started declaring themselves Pakistanis.
The MQM members again sought the floor, but the deputy speaker said that he was finishing the debate by declaring that all those sitting here under the huge Pakistani flag hanging behind were Pakistanis.
Published in Dawn, August 9th, 2019