Opposition-speaker standoff mars KP Assembly for third consecutive day

Updated February 22, 2020

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On the other hand, the government did not show flexibility to end a faceoff with the opposition. — Photo courtesy Abdul Majeed Goraya/File
On the other hand, the government did not show flexibility to end a faceoff with the opposition. — Photo courtesy Abdul Majeed Goraya/File

PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly was paralysed for the third consecutive working day on Friday as the standoff between Speaker Mushtaq Ahmad Ghani and the joint opposition continued over delay in the requisitioning of the session.

The defiant opposition sought an apology from the speaker to end protest in the assembly.

“Our protest will continue until Speaker Mushtaq Ghani tenders apology,” Opposition Leader Akram Khan Durrani told reporters on the premises of the assembly building.

On the other hand, the government did not show flexibility to end a faceoff with the opposition. Information minister Shaukat Ali Yousafzai said the government won’t negotiate with the opposition as long as they asked the speaker to apologise.

The speaker ignored a protest of the opposition and aggressively pursued the agenda despite disorder.

Speaker ignores protest, aggressively pursues agenda

The questions, calling attention notices, adjournment motions and privilege motions of the opposition members lapsed. Two bills were passed by the house without debate.

“Please order in the house. You are elected representatives, so participate in the business,” speaker asked the opposition members, who were shouting slogans.

“Lapsed items will not be included in the agenda again,” he warned.

The house wound up agenda in half an hour without debate due to the uproar.

In the absence of the ministers, the chair asked special assistant to the chief minister on local government Kamran Bangash to introduce the bills and also allowed him to table resolutions for the passage of two bills.

Awami National Party MPA Khushdil Khan said under the Constitution, a special assistant or an adviser couldn’t table a bill.

He said the speaker violated his oath by allowing a special assistant to table the bills.

“This act is unconstitutional and the speaker breached his oath through it,” Mr Khushdil told Dawn.

Lawmakers of the opposition benches began sloganeering and desk thumping as soon as the qari finished recitation from the Holy Quran.

The protesting lawmakers stood in front of the speaker’s podium and shouted slogans against the chair.

The assembly had witnessed the worst pandemonium on Tuesday that led to a brawl between the treasury and opposition members.

The opposition said Speaker Mushtaq Ghani had surrendered his neutrality and sought the chief minister’s permission to requisition the assembly.

Opposition Leader Akram Durrani told media that the opposition had submitted requisitions three times but the speaker did not convene the session. He said the opposition MPAs were also ignored in the meetings of the house’s committees.

“The speaker is supposed to play the role of a bridge between the government and opposition but our speaker has lost his impartiality,” he said.

Mr Durrani said the government was pushing opposition against the wall, while the orders of the Peshawar High Court regarding the distribution of development funds were not followed.

He said the government was violating the court’s orders and had been allocating funds to the MPAs of the ruling party.

The opposition leader said the opposition members would write to the chief secretary, finance secretary and all deputy commissioners regarding the violation of those court orders.

“These officers are committing contempt of court, so MPAs of the opposition will file contempt petitions against them,” he said.

Information minister Shaukat Ali Yousafzai brushed aside the allegations of the opposition and said the opposition did not have agenda.

He said the opposition had submitted the session requisition to make money and waste time.

The government introduced the Kaghan Development Authority Bill, 2020, and the National Disaster Management (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) (Amendment) Bill, 2020.

The assembly passed the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Land Acquisition (Amendment) Bill, 2020, and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Stamp (Amendment) Bill, 2020.

The assembly condemned the occupation of the territories of Azerbaijan by the Armenian armed forces and the genocide committed by the Armenian forces in the Azerbaijani town of Khojaly in Feb 1992. The resolution, which was passed with a majority vote, supported the efforts of the Azerbaijani Republic to resolve the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict by peaceful means.

Published in Dawn, February 22nd, 2020