NA speaker claims gallery closed in consultation with journalists

Published September 15, 2021
National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser has claimed that he had ordered the closure of the press gallery during President Dr Arif Alvi’s address to a joint session of parliament after getting reports about possible clash between the two journalists’ groups. —  Photo courtesy GOP Twitter/File
National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser has claimed that he had ordered the closure of the press gallery during President Dr Arif Alvi’s address to a joint session of parliament after getting reports about possible clash between the two journalists’ groups. — Photo courtesy GOP Twitter/File

ISLAMABAD: National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser has claimed that he had ordered the closure of the press gallery during President Dr Arif Alvi’s address to a joint session of parliament after getting reports about possible clash between the two journalists’ groups.

Talking informally to the reporters here on Wednesday, the speaker claimed that he had taken the step in consultation with the Parliamentary Reporters Association (PRA).

“I could not afford to see the two groups fight. It would have been an insult of the journalists and the house,” he said, while justifying his act of closing the press gallery for the first time in the country’s parliamentary history.

The speaker also said that he met a PRA delegation on Tuesday (today) and the issue would be resolved.

Hours after the speaker’s statement, the PRA categorically refuted the speaker’s claim and challenged him to name the journalists who met him as PRA representatives.

PRA refutes Qaiser’s statement

“There is no truth in the reports that a PRA delegation met the speaker on Tuesday,” says a statement issued by the PRA’s information secretary Malik Saeed Awan. He also denied the speaker’s claim that the association was on board when he took the decision to close down the press gallery.

Accusing the speaker of making a misstatement, the PRA called for an inquiry to know as to who had met the speaker as its representatives. It said that the PRA had decided to devise the future strategy after consultations before start of the next session of the National Assembly.

The speaker admitted that he committed a mistake by closing the press lounge as well along with the press gallery, saying that it happened because of a misunderstanding.

Mr Qaiser said the PRA was a representative body of the parliament and its members should also respect the traditions of the house.

The action of the speaker to close the gallery had come in the wake of the call given by the PRA to stage a walkout from the press gallery during the president’s address and join their colleagues who had been protesting outside the Parliament House against the government’s plan to set up the controversial Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA).

The reporters who had been issued special invitation cards from the Presidency for the occasion were surprised to see both the Press Lounge and Press Gallery, situated on the third floor of the Parliament House, locked when they reached there for the coverage.

The agitating reporters first staged a sit-in at the main entrance of the Parliament House and then shifted to the Speaker’s Office. The journalists, including some of the most senior reporters, remained there throughout the president’s speech and kept on chanting slogans against the speaker’s act, terming it ‘unconstitutional and illegal’

Published in Dawn, September 15th, 2021

Opinion

The rich boys
Updated 22 Sep 2021

The rich boys

Such is the toxic masculinity of these rich boys that no one is safe from it.
Going nuclear
22 Sep 2021

Going nuclear

Australia may regret its ‘forever partnership’ with the US.
Politics’ winged chariot
Updated 21 Sep 2021

Politics’ winged chariot

When others are shifting gears to election preparations, the PML-N is caught in its internal woes.

Editorial

22 Sep 2021

Interest rate hike

THE State Bank’s decision to raise its key interest rate by 25bps to 7.25pc underpins its acceptance of emerging...
PCB chief’s challenge
Updated 22 Sep 2021

PCB chief’s challenge

The Taliban takeover of Afghanistan has propelled fears of regional insecurity.
22 Sep 2021

No need for secrecy

THE government should not make a mountain out of the Toshakhana molehill. That would only encourage speculation of...
What’s the game?
21 Sep 2021

What’s the game?

Such brinkmanship is being fuelled by incendiary rhetoric as well as inflexible demands of a unilateral nature.
21 Sep 2021

Gas price hike

THE proposed hike of 24pc-37pc in the gas price of the top 23pc residential consumers, who account for 43pc of the...
21 Sep 2021

Green Line buses

AT long last, the first batch of vehicles for Karachi’s Green Line bus project arrived from China on Sunday,...