KARACHI: A day after the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf alleged that three of its MPAs from Sindh had gone “missing”, the provincial assembly witnessed an ugly physical brawl between members of the PTI and Pakistan Peoples Party on Tuesday as soon as the missing members entered the house and the former tried to get hold of them ahead of the Senate election.
In the ensuing chaos, PTI lawmakers managed to whisk away MPA Karim Bakhsh Gabol out of the assembly, but two others — Shahryar Shar and Aslam Abro — left the house reportedly with PPP members.
While Leader of the Opposition in the Sindh Assembly Haleem Adil Sheikh accused the PPP of kidnapping PTI members, Sindh Information Minister Nasir Shah rejected the allegation and said MPAs Gabol, Abro and Shar had expressed reservations over their party’s nominations for Senate elections.
It became almost a free-for-all situation in the house after the PTI’s Gabol along with two other “disgruntled” party fellows, Shar and Abro, reached the assembly hall. PPP members gave them a warm welcome by desk thumping.
It all started when PTI MPAs tried to take away their ‘disgruntled’ colleague
While MPA Gabol, who had earlier issued a video and refused to vote for the PTI’s candidates for Senate election, sat on the opposition benches after marking his attendance and the two other disgruntled PTI MPAs were chatting with the PPP members, a bunch of PTI members moved to Mr Gabol and made him walk towards the lobby apparently in friendly manner.
The PTI members’ endeavour led to a physical fight between the MPAs of the ruling and opposition parties as a vigilant Parliamentary Affairs Minister Mukesh Kumar Chawla and other PPP members intercepted the PTI lawmakers.
Later, the PPP claimed that they tried to prevent Mr Gabol’s “kidnapping” by his party colleague while the PTI termed it an internal party matter.
Deputy Speaker Rehana Leghari, who was in chair, tried her best to calm down the situation, repeatedly asking the fighting members to maintain order in the house, but to no avail.
Finally, she had to adjourn the session till Thursday when the situation went out of control.
While the scuffle between the two parties continued even after the adjournment, the PTI managed to take Mr Gabol’s custody. The PTI members escorted Mr Gabol out of the assembly and he was driven away along with Khurram Sher Zaman and Raja Azhar Khan.
Later, the members of the PPP and the PTI made allegations and counter allegations, holding press conferences and releasing video footage of the incident taken on their cellphones.
In one of the videos, MPA Gabol was heard saying” “Mujhe PP Walay Aghwa Ker Rahe Hain. Mujhe Vote Nahin Dena PP Ko (PPP men are kidnapping me. I don’t want to vote for PPP).”
Mr Gabol was seen surrounded by his party members in the video recorded by Mr Sher Zaman inside the assembly hall.
Sindh Assembly Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani has ordered an inquiry into the incident and sought a report from the assembly secretary. “It is very sad that such incidents are happening in this august house,” the speaker regretted.
Leader of the Opposition Haleem Adil Sheikh said that they would lodge an FIR against the PPP for “kidnapping” their MPAs.
Flanked by other PTI members at a presser, he alleged that his party’s female MPAs were also manhandled during the scuffle.
PTI Parliamentary Leader Bilal Ahmed Ghaffar said that the incident in the assembly proved their claim about kidnapping of their MPAs.
He asked the Election Commission of Pakistan to take notice of the incident and take those responsible for it to task.
On the other hand, Sindh Information Minister Syed Nasir Hussain Shah rejected the allegations of kidnapping MPAs and said that the PPP believed in democracy and everyone had the right to vote according to his conscience.
Talking to media on the assembly premises, he said that MPA Gabol had expressed displeasure over the PTI policies through a video statement. “Aslam Abro and Shaheryar Khan Shar also expressed reservations over their party’s nominations for Senate elections,” he added.
The minister claimed that senior members of PTI had announced that they would not vote for the party candidates in other provinces too.
Reacting to the incident inside the assembly, he said: “PTI staged drama in Sindh Assembly. PPP has nothing to do with it.”
Published in Dawn, March 3rd, 2021