ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly on Friday witnessed an unusual scene, when the session was prorogued without transacting any business, after meeting for less than 20 minutes.

The agenda included question hour, two calling-attention no-tices and further discussion on the president’s address to the joint sitting of the parliament — none of which was taken up for some unknown reasons.

Even a motion to dispense with the requirement of the question hour was not moved or passed. Traditionally, discussion on the president’s address is wound up by some minister, but that too did not happen at the last sitting before the budget session.

The prorogation order was abruptly read out by National Assembly Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq shortly after the House unanimously adopted a resolution suspending services of PML-Q MNA Tariq Bashir Cheema for the remaining session for misbehaving with a woman lawmaker of PTI, virtually restricting the suspension of the member, who was not present, to less than 10 minutes.

Defence minister raises alarm over security of parliament building

At the very outset of the proceedings, the Speaker referred to the unfortunate incident that took place in the House on Thursday which hurt various members.

He said lawmakers from all political parties later came to his chamber to move towards a solution. He said under a unanimous decision, a document seeking suspension of Tariq Bashir Cheema signed by these members was given to him.

He then read out the motion seeking Mr Cheema’s suspension for the remainder session, which said the incident eroded the sanctity of

the House in violation of Rule 30 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the National Assembly, 2007.

The motion was put to vote and unanimously adopted by the House in a move that will have no practical effect. The National Assembly on Friday passed a motion authorising Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq to nominate members for standing committees. The motion, moved by Syed Naveed Qamar, said that the standing committees be elected and Speaker be authorised to nominate members based on recommendations of parliamentary party heads.

The unanimously adopted motion also empowered the Speaker to make any change to the composition of the standing committees as per the requirement. The House passed a motion authorising Mr Sadiq to constitute parliamentary friendship groups to promote friendly relations with assemblies of other countries. This motion too was moved by Syed Naveed Qamar.

Security of parliament

Meanwhile, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif on Friday raised alarm over vulnerability of parliament house to terrorist attacks.

When the Speaker said he has issued simple straightforward guidelines from the security point of view, the defence minister rose in his seat to speak on a point of order and said that there remains a rush of visitors outside lifts, doors of National Assembly hall and desks from where announcements are made for drivers of parliamentarians at the end of House proceedings, and sometimes it becomes hard to sit in the car.

He said nobody knows as to who is the sponsor of a large number of visitors, who swarm lobbies and the areas near the gates. He said the other day over 100 visitors from a single party raised slogans from visitors’ gallery.

“This is neither Mochi Gate nor D. Chowk where we bring supporters for sloganeering. We should take care of sanctity of the House,” he said.

He said there always remains rush of TikTokers and social media activists and parliamentarians find it difficult to sit in their vehicles.

The defence minister said he has serious concerns over security of the parliament where access of people was very easy. He informed the House that the vehicle involved in Dasu incident remained in Pakistan for 10 days after passing through almost the whole country.

“And here, there is no check and anybody can come and enter the building,” he remarked. Warming that anything could happen any time, he called for restricting the number of visitors in view of security fears.

Addressing the speaker, he said he has raised the issue with him repeatedly, and even sent text messages to him, but regretted that it had so far not been taken seriously. The speaker said after giving verbal instructions, he has issued written directives on May 14.

He said the matter will also be taken up with the interior ministry and inspector general of police, Islamabad. He said that phones of all people, including TikTokers making videos at the entry gates and lifts, will be confiscated.

Published in Dawn, May 18th, 2024

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