PESHAWAR: The opposition benches protested in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly on Monday against what they called partisan role of Speaker Mushtaq Ahmad Ghani and disrupted the proceedings through sloganeering.

Lawmakers of the opposition parties came near the chair’s podium soon after a brief statement by Opposition Leader Akram Durrani and shouted slogans against the speaker.

MPAs of the Balochistan Awami Party also joined the chorus.

Speaker repeatedly asked the protesting members to take their seats and urged them to maintain decorum in the house.

“I will adjourn the sitting if you (opposition) do not stop sloganeering,” he asked Mr Durrani.

The speaker also snubbed chief whip of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf Qalandar Khan Lodhi for not bringing treasury members to the house.

Threatens to besiege CM House over Mahmood’s absence

“Lodhi Sahab, where are your members,” he asked him while pointing to empty chairs of the treasury side.

After recitation from the Holy Quran, Opposition Leader Akram Durrani took the floor on a point of order and castigated Speaker Mushtaq Ghani over the unceremonious prorogation of the session.

He said the sitting was adjourned until February 7 but the speaker issued prorogation order of the governor from home without informing the opposition.

Mr Durrani said the opposition submitted a requisition but the speaker was using tactics to delay the session.

He said the speaker was supposed to call the sitting and should read the prorogation order of the governor.

“You (speaker) make mockery of the assembly. We will not let you (chair) and ministers run the proceedings,” he said, adding that Mushtaq Ghani proved himself to be a very weak speaker.

The opposition leader said the opposition was trying to give strength to the speaker, but he (Ghani) had failed to assert his authority.

He said the opposition MPAs would not stage a walkout and would encircle the speaker’s podium during the whole session.

Mr Durrani also criticised Chief Minister Mahmood Khan for not attending the proceedings and warned that the opposition parties and their workers would besiege the Chief Minister’s House.

He said the opposition was strong and had sufficient numbers to give a tough time to the government.

The opposition leader said the chief minister did not fulfil his commitments made with the opposition’s MPAs regarding the allocation of funds for development schemes.

Mr Ghani adjourned the sitting for 10 minutes amid commotion and sloganeering by the opposition.

He asked PTI chief whip Qalandar Lodhi to bring the ruling party’s members to the assembly.

When the speaker moved to his chamber, Pakistan Peoples Party MPA Nighat Yasmin Orakzai occupied his chair.

When the house resumed sitting, the speaker asked law minister Sultan Mohammad Khan and finance minister Taimur Saleem Jhagra to introduce bills.

The opposition MPAs continued shouting slogans such as ‘Chenee Chor, Atta Chor’, referring to sugar and wheat flour scandals.

They also shouted slogans against the speaker.

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Stamp (Amendment) Ordinance, 2019, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Finance (Amendment) Ordinance, 2019, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Universities (Second Amendment) Bill, 2020, and the Galiyat Development Authority (Amendment) Bill, 2020, were introduced.

Speaker Mushtaq Ghani came down heavily on Mr Akram Durrani and other MPAs of the opposition for making disturbance and passing harsh remarks.

He said the opposition was not setting healthy traditions in the assembly.

“I will not let anybody use abusive language in the assembly or create disturbance,” he warned asking the opposition members not to force him to take stern action.

The treasury members took exception to the ‘misbehaviour’ of the opposition.

Information minister Shaukat Ali Yousafzai told reporters that the opposition used abusive language against the speaker.

He said the records of the proceedings would be examined and serious action would be taken if any MPA was found guilty of misconduct.

Law minister Sultan Muhammad Khan said the speaker had powers to suspend the membership of any lawmaker over misconduct.

He said the governor could prorogue session if the assembly was in session.

The assembly was adjourned until 2pm Tuesday.

PROTEST: Shopkeepers and businessmen of North Waziristan district staged a protest outside the assembly building demanding of the government to pay compensation for their damaged properties. They have set up a camp in front of the assembly and shouted slogans in favour of their demands.

After the adjournment of the sitting, Opposition Leader Akram Durrani and parliamentary leaders of other opposition parties visited the camp.

Mr Durrani assured protesters that the opposition would raise voice in the house to pressure the government to compensate the affected people.

The protest had entered 17th day. Their main demands are cash compensation for their properties damaged in Miramshah military operation.

Earlier, the affected people had organised a sit-in protest in Miramshah for 45 days. The shopkeepers demand Rs4.5 million per marla for commercial properties, while the government has offered Rs1.5 million for the same.

Published in Dawn, February 18th, 2020