ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly on Monday witnessed a noisy protest by the opposition Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) members demanding a general debate on the issue of the letter written by six judges of Islamabad High Court (IHC) regarding their alleged surveillance by the country’s intelligence agencies and interference in the judicial matters as the treasury benches and speaker termed it a sub judice matter.

Carrying placards with slogans seeking the release of Imran Khan and justice for the judges, the PTI lawmakers assembled in front of the speaker’s dais and raised full-throated slogans when he tried to conduct some routine business, ignoring their call for the debate on the judges’ issue.

Speaking on a point of order, PTI leader Omar Ayub drew the attention of Speaker Ayaz Sadiq that the opposition members had submitted an adjournment motion to the NA Secretariat on the judges’ issue and asked him to allow a general debate on this matter, declaring that the agenda that had been issued by the secretariat “does not reflect the reality”.

Mr Khan said the judges’ letter had exposed “the role of agencies” and how they interfered in the cases against ex-premier Imran Khan.

Minister Tarar calls it a sub judice matter

Federal Minister for Information Attaullah Tarar, however, said that since Chief Justice of Pakistan Qazi Faez Isa had already taken a suo motu notice and fixed the hearing, the matter had become sub judice and could not be debated in the assembly.

However, PTI’s chief whip Aamir Dogar said the country was facing a “constitutional crisis” after the judges’ letter and the parliament should discuss the matter considering the fact that the judiciary was an important pillar of the state.

Another senior PTI leader Asad Qaiser said since the issue was “sensitive” in nature, the speaker should use his powers under the rules and allow a debate on it. “The whole nation is facing a trauma because if there is no prestige left for the judges and if you will take decisions from the judges through dictation and by putting pressure on them and if cameras will be installed at their houses, then it is a sensitive matter,” said Mr Qaiser, asking the speaker to allow the debate.

Speaker Sadiq said that he would give his ruling on the matter keeping in mind the sensitivity of the issue. He said if the matter was sub judice, then they should better wait for an outcome of the case.

PTI chairman Barrister Gohar Ali Khan said that in the letter, the judges had mentioned that the “interference” in the judicial matters and political cases was still going on. He demanded that the lawmakers be allowed to debate the matter and suggest steps to prevent such ‘interference’. He also proposed that the house should pass a resolution against the ‘interference’.

The PTI members raised slogans of turncoat when Noor Alam Khan took the floor to criticise the PTI members for raising the judges’ issue, instead of discussing the ‘real public issues’ of price hike and power crisis.

Mr Khan, who had quit PTI and now represents the opposition JUI-F in the house, received the wrath of PTI members when he asked them “to think of the country, instead of thinking only about one person”.

Another firebrand PTI leader Sher Afzal Marwat, however, expressed his concerns over the surge in terrorism and the killing of the foreign nationals, particularly the Chinese, demanding a debate on the issue of terrorism.

At the outset, the speaker administered oath to 10 newly-elected members, nine of them belonging to PML-N and one from the MQM.

The speaker then read out the prorogation order of the president to adjourn the session for an indefinite period.

Published in Dawn, April 2nd, 2024

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