ISLAMABAD: In a surprise display of conciliation in the National Assembly, opposition Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) on Monday offered “cooperation and constructive engagement” in the parliamentary proceedings, as the government made a significant goodwill gesture by withdrawing suspension of the two PTI lawmakers whose entry had been banned by the speaker due to their rowdy behaviour during the joint sitting of parliament last week.

The motion seeking the withdrawal of the suspension order against PTI MNAs Jamshed Dasti and Moham­mad Iqbal Khan was moved by Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar and it was readily app­roved by the assembly through a voice vote after reconciliatory speeches by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.

Speaker Ayaz Sadiq had suspended the membership of the two lawmakers for the remainder of the current session for “eroding the sanctity” of the assembly by “indulging in rowdy behaviour” during President Asif Zardari’s address to the joint sitting of parliament on April 18.

The speaker had given his ruling after seeking the house approval on a motion through a voice vote and he repeated the same action on Monday for withdrawal of his previous order.

Govt moves motion to restore PTI MNAs’ membership; opposition agrees to join house business advisory committee

This unexpected thaw in relations sparked some optimism among lawmakers, paving the way for a more harmonious and productive parliamentary session. However, the speech of fiery PTI MNA from Karak Shahid Khattak indicated that this cooperation might not last long or perhaps was part of a strategic move ahead of the formation of the standing committees.

Shortly before the adjournment of the sitting till Tuesday evening, Mr Khattak while speaking on a point of order categorically announced they would not let this house run till the release of their founding chairman Imran Khan from the jail.

“We are being given Bhaashan (lectures) that we want to run this house. If Imran Khan is not released, we will not let this house run,” declared MNA Khattak. He said if it was a sin to call “mandate thieves and vote thieves” to those who had come to the power through rigging, then he would continue to repeat it.

PPP lawmaker Shazia Marri, who took the floor after his speech, said it seemed there were some lawmakers who did not want this assembly to discuss the issues being faced by the people. She termed it inappropriate to link parliament’s functioning with someone’s release. She also castigated the opposition members for their noisy protest during the oath-taking of Aseefa Bhutto-Zardari, reminding the house that some members had attempted to “sabotage the constitutional process” of oath-taking.

At the outset, leader of the opposition Omar Ayub Khan requested the speaker to review decision of suspending the two PTI lawmakers as per his commitment during a meeting with the opposition members’ delegation in his chamber.

The PTI leader then raised the issue of alleged rigging in by-polls, held on April 21.

PTI’s chief whip Aamir Dogar said that recording their protest in parliament was their democratic right and they would continue to do so. He recalled that in the previous assembly, the opposition members also brought whistles and trumpets during the protests, but the then speaker Asad Qaiser showed patience and did not take any action against them.

Mr Dogar asked the speaker to withdraw the suspension orders of both legislators, stating that the opposition members were ready to become a part of the house business advisory committee to discuss the ways and means to improve the atmosphere in the assembly. He expressed the hope that the speaker would take steps to take the members from both sides on board in order to improve the environment.

The chief whip of the opposition party also welcomed the visiting Iranian president and lauded Iran for giving a “befitting response” to Israel that, he said, was “the biggest terrorist” in the world.

Speaker Ayaz Sadiq expla­ined that when he received an invitation from the Iranian president for a meeting, he told them that he would come with a parliamentary delegation representing all the parties. He expressed his pleasure that both the government and the opposition members gave a ‘positive message’ to the Iranian president that despite having differences within themselves, they were united for the cause of Pakistan and to give honour to the guests.

PPP’s Naveed Qamar and Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar of the PML-N welcomed the opposition’s offer for cooperation and endorsed its demand that the disciplinary action taken against the two PTI MNAs should be withdrawn.

JUI-F lawmaker

Earlier, Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (Fazl) lawmaker Aliya Kamran while speaking on a point of order asked the speaker to expel MNA Sadaf Ihsan from the house after the Supreme Court’s decision of suspending the Peshawar High Court’s verdict in her favour. She said the JUI-F had actually given ticket to another woman with the same name, but she could not submit her nomination papers.

She alleged that taking advantage of the situation, Ms Ihsan “fraudulently” managed to seek the NA seat on the JUI-F reserved seat.

The JUI-F member, sitting on the opposition benches, asked the speaker to declare her “alien” and order her expulsion from the house.

However, Ms Ihsan, who was sitting on the treasury benches, claimed she had been awarded the ticket by Maulana Fazlur Rehman himself. She said she had come to the assembly for the cause of Pakistan and her constituency, Lakki Marwat.

Published in Dawn, April 23rd, 2024

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