ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly on Wednesday witnessed a rare scene when the chair ordered the sergeant-at-arms to eject an opposition lawmaker for his insistence that his question must be responded to.
National Assembly Deputy Speaker Qasim Khan Suri directed the sergeant-at-arms to expel Syed Agha Rafiullah, a PPP lawmaker from Karachi, from the house when he protested in front of podium for ignoring his question seeking to know the names of advisers and special assistants to the prime minister who had not filed their tax returns, along with the reasons.
The starred question of Mr Rafiullah was on top of the question list and its reply was not received.
Deputy Speaker Suri, who was chairing the session, chose to skip the question and move on to the next one, prompting Mr Rafiullah to forcefully protest.
House passes resolution against remarks made by PDM leaders at Quetta rally
The deputy speaker warned the MNA to follow the rules but when he continued to protest, the former directed the sergeant-at-arms to expel the lawmaker from the house, initially barring his entry for the current sitting and later for the entire session.
However, the Pakistan Peoples Party’s women lawmakers surrounded Mr Rafiullah and made it impossible for the sergeant-at-arms to expel him from the house.
Other opposition lawmakers, who were on a walkout from the house as a mark of protest over unexplained procedural objections returned to the house.
PPP MNA Raja Pervaiz Ashraf tried to pacify the deputy speaker by tendering an apology and asked the chair to withdraw his ruling about expulsion of the lawmaker from the house.
However, Mr Suri insisted that he would allow Mr Rafiullah to sit in the house only if he went out once and returned with his permission.
Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Mohammad Khan read out Rules 19, 20, 21 from the Rules of the Procedure and Conduct of National Assembly, 2007 which empower the chair to keep the house in order, including his power to expel someone. He stressed that implementation of the ruling involved prestige of the house.
Mr Rafiullah left the house and returned after about 25 minutes when the house passed a motion under Rule 288 to suspend the rules. The motion was tabled by the minister of state for parliamentary affairs.
Another highlight of the day was adoption of a resolution condemning the remarks made at the public meeting of the opposition alliance Pakistan Democratic Movement in Quetta which were termed “against Article 251 of the Constitution”.
The resolution was moved by Minister for Communications Murad Saeed who said that the remarks against the constitution amounted to contempt of the parliament.
He denounced the anti-Pakistan statements made from the platform of the PDM and said that conspiracies were being hatched against the country, urging the opposition parties not to become part of them.
He regretted the opposition’s attitude which pointed out the quorum and later walked out from the house by saying that it did not prefer to discuss the Tuesday’s tragic incident in Peshawar and left the house over political issues.
The minister said that no NRO would be given to corrupt elements.
He claimed that a “written NRO was presented by the opposition to the government” when efforts were under way to counter Covid-19 challenges and legislate in the parliament to seek Pakistan’s removal from the Financial Action Task Force’s grey list. But “we did not accept their NRO,” he said.
He questioned the coincidences between a recent statement by Indian National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and the speeches delivered a day earlier by the PDM leaders. He also condemned the statements made in the PDM’s rally against fencing on Pak-Afghan border.
Mr Saeed cursed the “elements strengthening India’s narrative by talking of independent Balochistan”.
Amid an uproar from the opposition, he termed Pakistan Muslim League-N supremo Nawaz Sharif a ‘certified thief and dacoit’.
The minister said that Prime Minister Imran Khan had raised his voice on the Kashmir and Palestine issues and fought the case of the finality of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)’s prophethood at international forums.
He said that Pakistan was facing internal and external threats and the government had adopted a rational approach to tackle all challenges. “We curse all those who promote Modi’s propaganda,” the minister added.
He also condemned what happened at the mausoleum of the founder of Pakistan in Karachi.
Several opposition members in their speeches said that the government appeared to have been boggled by rising popularity of the PDM. They said that the PDM had done nothing wrong and Awais Noorani had explained that what he said about independent Balochistan was a slip of the tongue.
Khawaja Asif of PML-N in his speech accused the government of following a policy of appeasing India and alleged that way was being paved to send Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav back to his country.
Published in Dawn, October 29th, 2020