Opposition leaders protest outside Parliament House on non-issuance of production orders

September 19, 2019

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Opposition leaders protest outside Parliament House in Islamabad on Thursday. — Photo provided by author
Opposition leaders protest outside Parliament House in Islamabad on Thursday. — Photo provided by author
Opposition leaders protest outside Parliament House in Islamabad on Thursday. — Photo provided by author
Opposition leaders protest outside Parliament House in Islamabad on Thursday. — Photo provided by author

A group of over 50 opposition leaders staged a protest in front of Parliament House in Islamabad on Thursday to protest the non-issuance of production orders for various politicians who are imprisoned.

Ahead of a National Assembly session, protesting opposition leaders at the camp included PML-N leader Khawaja Asif, Ayaz Sadiq, Murtaza Javed Abbasi, Rana Tanveer, PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb as well PPP lawmakers Naveed Qamar, Shazia Marri and Shahida Rehmani.

The protest camp included pictures of arrested leaders, including former president Asif Ali Zardari, former premier Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, PML-N leader Khawaja Saad Rafique and Rana Sanaullah. Posters calling for the release of former premier Nawaz Sharif and his daughter PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz were also held up.

During the protest, PPP leader Marri opposed playing PML-N party anthems. Aurangzeb asked her to provide PPP songs as well, which she did.

While speaking to the media, former foreign minister Asif said that the opposition leaders were protesting because of the approach of the National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser and the non-issuance of production orders for various leaders.

He said that the rights of assembly members were being denied.

"Our protest is symbolic," Asif said, adding that yesterday while a National Assembly session was underway, PPP stalwart Khursheed Shah was arrested and Qaiser was unaware of this.

Shah joined a long list of opposition leaders — including Zardari, his sister Faryal Talpur, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, Abbasi, former finance minister Miftah Ismail, Maryam, Saad Rafique, incumbent leader of the opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif and his son Hamza Shahbaz — who are currently facing graft allegations.

During the protest, PPP leader Qamar said that arresting opposition leaders such as Shah, Nawaz and Zardari would make no difference.

He added that it was the responsibility of the custodian of the House to protect the rights of MNAs and the speaker didn't care about this.

"[They] want to run the assembly like PTI, we will not let this happen," he said.

PML-N spokesperson Aurangzeb had announced that the protest was being staged to express solidarity with arrested opposition politicians, as well to oppose the "selected" prime minister's dictatorial thinking and media restrictions.