NA to meet today amid opposition’s boycott threat

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The National Assembly is set to meet on Monday (today) after a two-day recess, with opposition parties sticking to their demand for the issuance of the production orders for their members who are under detention on corruption charges. — APP/File
The National Assembly is set to meet on Monday (today) after a two-day recess, with opposition parties sticking to their demand for the issuance of the production orders for their members who are under detention on corruption charges. — APP/File

ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly is set to meet on Monday (today) after a two-day recess, with opposition parties sticking to their demand for the issuance of the production orders for their members who are under detention on corruption charges.

The lower house of parliament, which has been in session since Dec 4, has so far not been able to transact most of its business due to protests and walkouts by opposition parties over the failure of Speaker Asad Qaiser to ensure the presence of detained opposition members in the house for participation in its proceedings.

On Dec 6, the opposition disrupted proceedings of the house by staging a protest and walkout. Members of the Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M), an ally of the PTI-led coalition government, also walked out over the issue of arrest of four women from Awaran district in Balochistan a few days ago.

Since its beginning on Dec 4, session has failed to transact most of its business due to protests, walkouts

BNP-M chief Sardar Akhtar Mengal also raised the issue during the Dec 5 session and he, along with some opposition members, even staged a sit-in in front of the speaker’s dais.

The proceedings of the lower house on Dec 6 could not continue even for more than 10 minutes when one of the members pointed out lack of quorum, forcing Deputy Speaker Qasim Khan Suri to adjourn the ­session till Monday evening.

The main opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) had in its meeting on Dec 3 decided to boycott the proceedings of the National Assembly if Speaker Asad Qaiser did not issue production orders for the jailed lawmakers. The PML-N had decided that they would not participate in the assembly proceedings, if the speaker did not issue production orders of even a single member.

At present, three lawmakers of the PML-N and two of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) are under detention on various charges.

Former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, former railways minister Khawaja Saad Rafique and MNA from Faisalabad Rana Sanaullah of the PML-N are under detention.

Former president Asif Ali Zardari and former opposition leader Syed Khursheed Shah of the PPP are also under custody of National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on charges of money laundering and corruption.

The PPP, however, is not insisting on the production orders for Mr Zardari and Mr Shah as both of them are at present undergoing medical treatment at hospitals and party leaders say the two lawmakers would not be able to attend the sitting, even if the speaker issued their production orders.

The National Assembly Secre­tariat on Sunday issued a 19-point agenda for the Monday’s sitting, which included passage of two government bills — the Mutual Legal Assistance (Criminal Matters) Bill 2019 and the Banks (Nationa­lisation) Amendment Bill 2019 — besides presentation of nine reports of various standing committees by their chairmen.

A debate on the address of President Dr Arif Alvi to the joint sitting of parliament on Sept 12 is also on the assembly’s agenda.

Published in Dawn, December 9th, 2019