ISLSMABAD: National Assembly Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq has suspended eight security officials over the entry of some “unauthorised” people into the Parliament House building and ordered a “departmental action” against them.

According to an official handout issued by the NA Secretariat on Saturday, the speaker had taken this punitive action “to ensure the security and supremacy of the parliament”.

The action came days after the assembly’s DG banned reporters from carrying mobile phones to the press gallery.

The action was taken after some TV channels telecast footage, recorded on a mobile phone, of the opposition’s protest during the speech of PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Thursday.

Journalists protest over ban on mobile phones in press gallery

The reporters covering the parliamentary proceedings have decided to lodge a protest over this action.

The handout mentioned that during the NA proceedings on Friday, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif had drawn the attention of the speaker towards the issue of parliament’s security and expressed concern over the safety of parliamentarians.

“To ensure the security and supremacy of parliament, the speaker has issued clear instructions to the employees of parliament, stating that no compromise can be made on its security and sanctity. Parliament is a supreme institution and represents 220 million people of Pakistan. Ensuring the security of the parliament is our constitutional and legal responsibility,” the handout quoted the speaker as saying.

The defence minister had raised alarm over vulnerability of the Parliament House to terrorist attacks.

When the speaker said he had already issued simple guidelines from the security point of view, the minister rose in his seat to speak on a point of order.

He said there remained a rush of visitors outside lifts, doors of the assembly hall and desks from where announcements were made for drivers of parliamentarians at the end of house proceedings, and sometimes it became hard to sit in the car.

He said nobody knew as to who was the “sponsor” of a large number of visitors, who swarmed lobbies and the areas near the gates. He said the other day over 100 visitors from a single party raised slogans from the visitors’ gallery.

He also said that there always remained a rush of TikTokers and social media activists and parliamentarians found it difficult to approach their vehicles

Warning that anything could happen, he called for restricting the number of visitors over security fears.

The speaker had said that after giving verbal instructions, he had issued written directives on May 14, adding that he would also take up the matter with the interior ministry and the Islamabad police chief.

He also said phones of all people, including Tik­Tokers making videos at the entry gates and lifts, would be confiscated.

The minister had made a similar statement on May 13 when some PTI supporters in the gallery raised slogans in support of Imran Khan. They had been later expelled by the speaker.

A senior parliamentary reporter M.B. Soomro, while commenting on the situation, expressed serious concern over the ban on mobile phones and the speaker’s action against security officials.

He said it was the duty of the reporters to show and tell the people about the happenings during the proceedings of the assembly as it was the right of the people to know about the actions of their representatives.

Published in Dawn, May 19th, 2024

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