PTI seems in no mood to let parliament run smoothly

Published March 1, 2024
A PTI supporter wears a mask replicating Imran Khan outside the Parliament House building in Islamabad on Thursday. — White Star
A PTI supporter wears a mask replicating Imran Khan outside the Parliament House building in Islamabad on Thursday. — White Star

ISLAMABAD: While majority of Members National Assembly (MNAs) were of the view that there was a need for team efforts to address national issues, PTI does not seem in a mood to let smooth sailing of parliament.

As Thursday was the first day of the National Assembly, arrangements were made for the leadership of the PML-N and PPP, including Nawaz Sharif, Shehbaz Sharif, Hamza Shehbaz, Asif Ali Zardari and Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, to enter the parliament house from a separate entrance. However, majority of the MNAs used the main entrance to reach the assembly hall.

PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal, while talking to media, said the divided mandate was an opportunity for the country.

“It shows that the nation wants all political parties to work collectively and meet the challenges. I believe one person or one party cannot turn around the current situation,” he said.

Leaders of MQM Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, Farooq Sattar, Mustafa Kamal and others held a joint press conference in which Mr Siddiqui said people of Pakistan could not get a share in government for the last 75 years.

PML-N, PPP lawmakers stress joint efforts; say rigging alleged in every election; term divided mandate an opportunity

“We don’t want any ministry, governorship and other seats. We just want people get their rights and their issues should be addressed,” he said.

Replying to a question regarding an audio tape about MQM not getting public mandate, he said 10 years ago the party had won more seats compared to the recent elections. He said the fact was that MQM did not get the number of seats which it deserved and announced to approach the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and other forums, but then made it clear that it did not believe in agitation.

Mustafa Kamal said MQM will sit in the Sindh Assembly and will not block the ways of governance. He said they believed in talks and never closed its doors for any one.

Former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani while talking to media said in every election allegations of rigging were made. “I have been hearing it since 1985,” he added.

MNA Ijazul Haq, son of military dictator Gen Ziaul Haq, said Pakistan was facing a number of issues and there was a need to address them.

When asked if the new government will be able to complete its five-year tenure, he said it depended on those who [actually] run the government.

When Pashtunkhwa Milli Awami Party chief Mahmood Khan Achakzai reached the main entrance of the parliament house, media persons tried to talk to him. However, he put his finger on his lips and entered the building.

Balochistan National Party (Mengal) head Sardar Mohammad Akhtar Mengal said there was unprecedented rigging. He said Balochistan had always been treated as a colony and “angels” run all its affairs. He said except Allah he had no hope in anyone.

Most of the PTI MNAs reached the building carrying posters inscribed with the demand “Release Imran Khan.”

PTI’s candidate for the slot of the prime minister Omar Ayub said they will raise voice for the right and mandate of the people.

“Our priority will be to get our leaders [who have won the election] released from jail and bring to parliament. There is a precedent regarding allocation of reserved seats to parties which did have seats in the National Assembly but the ECP is denying our right,” he said.

Replying to a question, he said it was yet to be decided who will be the opposition leader in the NA.

Barrister Gohar Ali Khan said only those who got the mandate of the people should be allowed to go to parliament but “unfortunately fifth generation rigging was done.” He said the goal of true democracy was to avoid stealing the mandate of people.

“This time, historic rigging has been done. Results of presiding officers were changed. I demand that only true representatives of the people should be allowed to sit in parliament,” he said.

Shehryar Afridi of the PTI said it was a sham assembly and his party will continue struggle for true democracy.

Another PTI MNA, Makhdoom Zain Qureshi, said the mandate of the PTI had been robbed. He said PTI candidates contested the election as per the vision of Imran Khan and they will represent their constituencies as per his vision.

He said he was missing his father Shah Mahmood Qureshi. He also said PTI was not allowed to get the number of seats which it deserved.

While going out of the parliament house after taking oath, PML-N’s Attaullah Tarar said he and his party were thankful to all the coalition partners, including Bilawal Bhutto and Asif Ali Zardari, for assuring their support to Shehbaz Sharif for the slot of the prime minister. He said the letter written by the founding chairman of PTI to the IMF was not good for the economy.

PTI MNA Sher Afzal Marwat said before taking oath his party’s members raised voice against violations of the constitution.

“In the assembly hall, we said both Asif Zardari and Nawaz Sharif had stolen the mandate of the people. We spoke against everyone who signed the roll. It is just a start and the actual protest will be seen soon. It is not the time to remain silent over disappearances,” he said.

“I want to make it clear that our true war has started today and we cannot be made silent. Women of PML-N passed derogatory remarks against us,” he alleged.

He said even if Maryam Nawaz faces anything unconstitutional, he will raise voice against it.

Replying to a question, he said PTI had placed Form 45 in front of national and international media and made it clear that returning officers (ROs) were used for rigging. He said people were sitting in the assembly with sham mandate.

Former speaker National Assembly Asad Qaiser said Malik Aamir Dogar will be the PTI’s candidate for the speaker.

“Today the session of NA was held with a sham mandate. It was the right of the masses to cast their votes in favour of any party,” he said.

He said the PTI had emerged as the majority party in the elections and alleged that PML-N had won only 29 seats. He said writing a letter to the IMF was in favour of Pakistan because funds should not be embezzled.

Malik Aamir Dogar said he was thankful to Imran Khan for nominating him as a candidate for the NA speaker. He said PTI was deprived of its mandate.

Later, Omar Ayub and Barrister Gohar Ali Khan held a press conference and said PDM-2 had only one agenda to loot the national exchequer. Mr Ayub said he had told the meeting of the NA that the house was incomplete and demanded that the chief election commissioner should resign.

Barrister Gohar said PTI was not only deprived of seats through Form 47 but was also not being given even reserved seats.

Information minister appreciates protests

Meanwhile, caretaker Information Minister Murtaza Solangi while talking to media said protests and hooting in the house was not condemnable.

“The meeting was tough but roars and protests are part of democracy. I would say democracy is not a graveyard in which no one should be allowed to talk,” he said.

While a heavy contingent of security forces was deployed at the entry gates and lawn of the parliament house, no protest was observed by any party. The entrance to Constitution Avenue at Serena Hotel and Radio Pakistan were blocked and people were told to go towards Marriott and Margallah Avenue to enter Constitution Avenue.

However, a large number of people were seen standing outside the parliament house on Constitution Avenue, hoping that they will be allowed to enter the building.

A police official, requesting not to be quoted, said in the morning they were informed that all VIP passes had been cancelled due to which no one will be allowed to enter the parliament house. However, later messages were received from high ups to allow some people.

Published in Dawn, March 1st, 2024

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