ISLAMABAD: The coalition government on Thursday faced an embarrassing moment in the National Assembly when a treasury member termed the situation in the country with respect to civilian supremacy “worse” than the previous Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) regime, as he protested the Federal Investigation Agency’s (FIA) refusal to let him travel abroad, despite having the federal cabinet’s permission.

Besides North Waziristan MNA Mohsin Dawar’s hard-hitting speech, the lower house also witnessed uproar when a vocal opposition member, Saira Bano, “condemned” Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman for passing objectionable remarks about women in public gatherings - prompting members from the PML-N and the JUI-F to come to his defence.

As soon as Ms Bano, who belongs to the Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA), took her seat after criticising the Maulana, PML-N MNA Sheikh Rohale Asghar and Federal Minister for Religious Affairs Mufti Abdul Shakoor took the floor asked her if she dared criticise the PTI for “disrespecting” women at their sit-ins and protests.

GDA member criticises Fazl’s remarks about women

Ms Bano wanted to respond to the points raised by the two treasury members, but the speaker did not give her the floor despite her repeated insistence. The speaker gave the ruling that under the rules, the members could not speak about a person not present in the house to defend himself and, therefore, the GDA member could not talk about the Maulana.

This compelled Ms Bano to lodge a protest and point out quorum, which was clearly lacking, forcing the speaker to adjourn the sitting without taking upthe remaining agenda items till Friday morning (today).

At the outset of the sitting, Mr Dawar - who also chairs the house committee on foreign affairs - took the floor and informed the house about the incident when he was stopped by the FIA officials from boarding a plane at the Islamabad airport en route Tajikistan, where he had been invited to attend a security conference.

The FIA official gave no justifiable reason for the act and simply said that he had been directed to do so by the “high-ups”, the MNA said, adding that perhaps he had received the orders from a ‘Havaldar’, a reference normally used for the military establishment.

“We have not supported the vote of no confidence [against former prime minister Imran Khan in April] to get perks and privileges and some positions. Imran Khan was offering us more [positions]. We had supported the move because Imran Khan was trampling civilian supremacy under his feet and surrendered the people’s power.

We had not supported the new government only to replicate the previous regime,” said Mr Dawar.

“The new government is ahead of them [the PTI govt] in this regard as stated by Magsi Sb”, declared Mr Dawar while mentioning Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) leader Khalid Magsi who was sitting in front of him.

Mr Dawar was later supported by PPP’s Shazia Marri, PML-N’s Rohale Asghar and Mufti Shakoor after the speaker had already referred the matter to the committee.

Mr Asghar, however, was of the view that the speaker should have used his powers and resolve the matter in the chamber, instead of bringing it before the house. He also put the speaker in trouble when he asked him to dare issue production orders of Mr Ali Wazir.

Published in Dawn, December 2nd, 2022

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