ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly on Monday again witnessed ruckus when surprisingly treasury members disrupted proceedings of the house by raising slogans and holding a noisy protest after Speaker Asad Qaiser refused to give floor to ruling party MNAs from Karachi, who wanted to raise the issue of the alleged attack on Opposition Leader in Sindh Assembly Haleem Adil Sheikh inside a prison.
A few lawmakers of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) from Karachi, including Faheem Khan, were seen rushing towards the opposition benches in an aggressive manner for a fight with opposition members, but they were stopped by some backbenchers.
The PTI legislators wanted to target Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) MNA Agha Rafiullah, also from Karachi, who was constantly provoking them by responding to their slogans and passing some personal remarks against Prime Minister Imran Khan.
Haleem Adil has been detained in a case related to violence during by-polls
Earlier in the day, Opposition Leader in the Sindh Assembly Haleem Adil Sheikh in a video statement said that he had come to Karachi’s Jinnah Hospital allegedly after being beaten up while in jail. He also claimed that some other PTI workers were also being tortured in the prison.
Mr Sheikh, who was remanded in judicial custody by an anti-terrorism court on Feb 19, was detained last week in a case related to violence during by-polls in a provincial assembly constituency of Malir.
The PTI legislators wanted to speak on the Karachi incident at the outset of the sitting of the house, but the speaker said that he would provide them the opportunity after disposing of some agenda items.
As soon as the speaker announced completion of the Question Hour, the PTI lawmakers again stood up and demanded the floor and started raising slogans against the PPP and the Sindh government. The PTI MNAs were paid back in the same coin by PPP lawmakers.
It was during the melee that Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan laid two ordinances, including the controversial Elections (Amendment) Ordinance, 2021, seeking open Senate vote, in the assembly. Ignoring the protest and call by the opposition for a lack of quorum, the speaker then allowed tabling of 13 reports of various standing committees one after the other.
Finally, the speaker gave the floor to PPP’s Rafiullah, who pointed out the lack of quorum, for which a presence of a minimum of 86 MNAs is required in the 342-member house. After a headcount, the speaker adjourned the sitting till Tuesday (today).
The tussle between the PPP and the PTI started even during the Question Hour when PTI’s Faheem Khan criticised the Sindh government for not issuing health cards to the people in the province.
PPP’s Shazia Marri strongly protested against Mr Khan’s remarks and asked the MNA to raise his voice against his own party’s government for increasing prices of medicines in the country. She also termed the distribution of health cards a “drama”.
Earlier, in a written reply to a question asked by MNA Naureen Farooq Ibrahim, the parliamentary secretary for health informed the assembly that 228 wild poliovirus (WPV) cases had been reported in the country over the last two years. She said that 147 cases had been reported in 2019 and another 81 in 2020.
Published in Dawn, February 23rd, 2021