ISLAMABAD: The first National Assembly session of the fourth parliamentary year did not proceed properly on Friday as quorum was pointed out by the opposition which termed it “hastily called”.
The house was therefore adjourned till Monday, but not before a unanimous resolution was passed to pay tribute to Kashmiri leader Syed Ali Geelani who had recently passed away in the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK).
On the other hand, controversy over shutting down of the press gallery during the recent address of President Dr Arif Alvi failed to be resolved. The press gallery reopened on Friday amid internal differences between journalists and members of the Parliamentary Reporters Association (PRA).
When the session started, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) MNA Naveed Qamar complained to National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser that the session had been summoned in haste therefore the opposition would point out the quorum.
This was endorsed by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) MNA Khawaja Saad Rafiq, who also objected to the hastily-called session.
Both leaders of the two opposition parties said quorum would be pointed out once the resolution to pay homage to Syed Ali Geelani was passed.
Later, PPP MNA Syed Agha Rafiullah, after having a few words with Syed Naveed Qamar, said summoning the session on such a short notice was against parliamentary norms.
He said the act of locking the press gallery during President Arif Alvi’s address to the parliament was unprecedented.
Meanwhile, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Mohammed Khan read out the resolution offering tribute to the late Kashmiri leader.
In the resolution, Geelani’s struggle for Kashmir’s freedom was lauded.
“He was a courageous and brave guide who dedicated his entire life to raising his voice for the protection of the rights of the people of IIOJK,” the resolution said.
It further stated that the entire nation paid tribute to the Kashmiri freedom movement and the National Assembly strongly condemned the Indian forces’ action of snatching Geelani’s body from his family, imposing a lockdown across IIOJK and burying him amid tight security.
The resolution said Mr Geelani opposed the Indian occupation of Kashmir and the brutalities committed against Kashmiris, adding that he had fought for their (Kashmiris) rights his entire life.
Due to lack of quorum, the government could not reintroduce the bill of election rules amendment called Election (second amendment) Bill-2021.
According to the agenda of the house, a resolution was to be moved for holding a joint sitting of the parliament where the bill would have been tabled for passage.
The bill aims at introducing Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) in the next general elections in 2023 and granting voting rights to overseas Pakistanis which were vehemently opposed by the opposition.
The National Assembly Secretariat on Friday reopened the press gallery which was locked last Monday during the president’s address to the two houses of the parliament.
However, journalists criticised the office-bearers of the Parliamentary Reporters Association (PRA) for sitting in the gallery on Friday without lodging a protest with NA Speaker Asad Qaiser on shutting down the gallery.
Most parliamentary reporters were of the view that the PRA members should have abstained from sitting in the gallery until the speaker gave names of those journalists on whose request the gallery was closed.
The speaker had claimed two days ago that he had closed the gallery on the demand of some reporters to avoid “clash” between two groups of journalists.
Published in Dawn, September 18th, 2021