PESHAWAR: All standing committees of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly were dissolved on Monday for inducting lawmakers from the merged tribal districts as uproar by the opposition marred the house proceedings for the fourth working day.
MPA of the ruling PTI from Khyber merged tribal district Mohammad Shafiq Afridi moved a motion seeking dissolution and reconstitution of the standing committees to induct MPAs from the erstwhile Fata.
He demanded representation of the MPAs from tribal districts in the standing committees.
The MPA said the strength of lawmakers had increased from 124 to 145 after the merger of seven tribal agencies and six Frontier Regions of the erstwhile Fata, where elections for the KP Assembly were held on July 20, 2019.
He said the number of the members of the standing committees in accordance with an increase in the overall strength of the assembly.
Uproar by opposition mars proceedings for fourth day
The house passed the motion by a majority vote as MPAs of the opposition were not present.
The government did not oppose the motion regarding dissolution of the committees.
Speaker Mushtaq Ghani, who presided over the sitting, dissolved the standing committees under Rule 193 of the Provincial Assembly of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Procedure and Conduct of Business Rules, 1988.
Under the new arrangements, the strength of members of the standing committee will be increased from nine to 13 after the induction of new lawmakers.
Atmosphere in the assembly looked conducive for reconciliation between the treasury and the opposition. Sanity was expected to be returned to the house in the wake of contacts between the two sides.
Opposition members were meeting in the lobby after PTI chief whip Qalandar Khan Lodhi and information minister Shaukat Ali Yousafzai met Awami National Party parliamentary leader Sardar Hussain Babak in an attempt to defuse tensions.
Speaker Mushtaq Ghani smoothly started proceedings in the absence of the opposition members.
The chair disposed of items on the agenda one by one.
Sardar Babak and Balochistan Awami Party MPA Bilawal came to the floor for a brief chat with the PTI chief whip and gave him (Lodhi) a piece of paper.
Both lawmakers went back to the lobby, where the opposition members were meeting.
A rumpus broke out when the opposition members entered the house and began thumping desks and shouting slogans.
PPP lawmaker Nighat Yasmin Orakzai had brought a megaphone to the floor.
As she started shouting slogans on the megaphone, the sergeant-at-arms called women constables to stop her from using the sound system.
The MPAs stopped the assembly’s security staff from snatching the megaphone from their colleague.
Amid hue and cry, the chair gave the floor to minister Shaukat Yousafzai and ruling party MPA Fazal Elahi to respond to the opposition.
Mr Elahi blamed disorder on the opposition and alleged that some MPAs had turned the house into a fish market.
He asked the chair to confiscate illegal equipment (megaphone) brought in by members.
Speaker Mushtaq Ghani directed the security staff to stop the entry of members on Tuesday if they brought ‘illegal equipment’ to the assembly’s premises.
He adjourned the sitting until 2pm today (Tuesday).
Mr Babak told reporters that the opposition and treasury had reached an understanding that the speaker would be asked to adjourn the sitting to end the ongoing government-opposition standoff in the assembly.
He said the opposition MPAs moved to the lobby as a goodwill gesture.
The ANP leader said the opposition waited in the lobby while the speaker started disposing of the agenda.
He alleged that Qalandar Lodhi did not fulfil his commitment and deceived the opposition.
Mr Babak said the assembly’s speaker had lost impartiality.
The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Finance (Amendment) Bill, 2020, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Universities (Second Amendment) Bill, 2020, the Galiyat Development Authority (Amendment) Bill, 2020 and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Land Acquisition (Amendment) Bill, 2020, were passed by the house after debate.
After amendments, the Universities (Second Amendment) Act will be extended to the former Provincially Administered Tribal Areas and Federally Administered Tribal Areas.
The communication and works department in response to a question from MMA lawmaker Inayatullah Khan informed the house that work on the Swat Motorway could not be completed within the stipulated time under the concession agreement.
The department said the deadline for the project’s completion was May 3, 2019, which the contractor failed to meet due to a delay in land acquisition for the last 20 kilometers of the motorway falling in Malakand district, which was not a settled district.
It added that the project was likely to be completed by next June.
The local government department also acknowledged that it had appointed an office assistant as the assistant director on a temporary basis on the recommendations of the chief minister and deputy commissioner of Battagram.
The official identified as Ghulam Yousaf is said to be an employee of the district council.
Published in Dawn, February 25th, 2020