PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly witnessed pandemonium on Monday after the chair refused to allow members from the merged tribal districts to discuss the controversial recruitment of male and female nurses by the health directorate in the erstwhile Fata.
The lawmakers from the opposition benches threw the copies of agenda items away amid sloganeering, while labour minister Shaukat Yousafzai and parliamentary leader of the Balochistan Awami Party Bilawal Afridi nearly came to blows when the former accused the latter of using money for his election to the assembly.
The chair adjourned the sitting during the ruckus.
Members of the BAP, Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl and Awami National Party from the merged tribal districts, who had disrupted proceedings on last Friday, resumed protest over the recruitment of 481 nurses in ex-Fata health facilities.
The directorate recently appointed a total of 481 male and female nurses to the region. Twenty-nine of them belong to tribal districts, while the rest hail from Malakand division.
MPAs of tribal districts resent recruitment of non-locals for health facilities
The protesting MPAs believe that recruitment of non-locals was injustice to the people of the tribal districts.
The disturbance began when the lawmakers of three parties staged a sit-in in front of the speaker’s dais after question hour.
Deputy Speaker Mahmood Jan, who was presiding over the sitting, asked Bilawal Afridi and other MPAs to take their seats, but they ignored his request.
The chair said he had reached an understanding with Bilawal Afridi before the sitting that the protesting MPAs would be given the floor after the completion of the agenda.
“Please stop acting like a child and you can’t blackmail the chair through such tactics,” he warned Bilawal, who had moved an adjournment motion on the recruitment of nurses.
The chair’s remarks triggered uproar as the MPAs resorted to sloganeering.
Mr Jan ignored the hue and cry of the MPAs and gave the floor to other lawmakers of the opposition to move their calling attention notices and adjournment motions.
The opposition members asked the chair to give time to their protesting colleagues to express their viewpoint, but to no avail.
“Nobody can dictate me and I will give the floor to protesting MPAs once the routine agenda is finished,” the chair remarked.
When the opposition members expressed reluctance to speak on their items, the chair asked the relevant ministers and special assistant to introduce bills.
Women MPAs Nighat Yasmin Orakzai and Naeema Kishwar also joined the chorus and accused the chair of violating the rules of business by passing the bills without debate.
“Your (chair) acts are unconstitutional. You will have to hear me,” said MPA Naeema Kishwar when the deputy speaker did not allow her to speak on an amendment moved by Pakistan Peoples Party MPA Orakzai.
Other members of the opposition also joined the protest. The copies of the agenda items were thrown.
The deputy speaker issued a warning to MPA Orakzai under Rule 226 of the Provincial Assembly of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Procedure and Conduct of Business Rules, 1988.
Amid uproar, the government introduced the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Factories (Amendment) Bill, 2021, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (Regularisation of Services of employees of Erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas) Bill, 2021, and the West Pakistan Motor Vehicles Taxation (Amendment) Bill, 2021.
The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Universities (Second Amendment) Bill, 2021, and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Local Government (Third Amendment) Bill, 2021, were passed by the house.
Earlier, women MPAs from the opposition benches staged a token protest against the proposed Pakistan Media Development Authority Act.
Expressing solidarity with the media, they displayed placards with slogans, ‘Attack on freedom of media is unacceptable’ and ‘Journalism is not a crime’.
Published in Dawn, September 14th, 2021