Opposition walks out on NA speaker twice
By Shahzad Raza
ISLAMABAD: Opposition parties in the National Assembly (NA) walked out of the proceedings twice on Monday to protest against Speaker Chaudhry Amir Hussain.
The opposition staged the first walkout after the speaker did not allow Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) member Abid Sher Ali to submit a privilege motion. However, members of the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) did not join the walkout. The opposition walked out a second time over the NA speaker’s failure to order the production of Makhdoom Javed Hashmi, detained president of the Alliance for the Restoration of Democracy (ARD). “It’s been four and a half months since a member of this house was kidnapped from Parliament Lodges. You (the speaker) have neither visited him nor issued an order to produce him in the house. The ISI is interrogating him,” Mr Hashmi’s daughter Memoona said.
The opposition also compelled the government to withdraw a motion to elect five lawmakers from the treasury to the board of governors of the National Book Foundation. The motion submitted by Federal Education Minister Zubeida Jalal recommended Amanullah Khan, Gulab Jamal, Haider Rizvi, Jamaluddin Al-Gillani and Aasiya Azeem for the board of governors.
“This reflects the government’s feudal mentality. They don’t deem it necessary to include anyone from the opposition,” said Syed Naveed Qamar of the Pakistan People’s Party Parliamentarians. Mr Qamar said the motion should be withdrawn and the opposition members included in the board.
After the break for maghrib prayers, lawmakers from the opposition asked the speaker to put the motion to a vote. The speaker did not pay heed to the opposition demand for a vote for over 10 minutes and started allowing lawmakers to speak on points of order. The opposition criticised the speaker’s attitude and accused him of bulldozing over opposition’s rights.
The education minister withdrew her motion, saying she would reconsider it following the opposition’s demand.