Speaker stops MNA from discussing KBD
By Zulfiqar Ghuman
ISLAMABAD: Members of the opposition in the National Assembly staged a token walkout on Thursday when Speaker Chaudhry Amir Hussain did not allow Abdul Majid Pirzada to speak on the Kalabagh Dam on a point of order.
The speaker switched off the microphone of Mr Pirzada, an MNA of the Pakistan People’s Party-Parliamentarians (PPP-P) from Sindh, while he said the president was misleading people on the Kalabagh Dam issue.
The Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) joined the Alliance for Restoration of Democracy (ARD) in the walkout when the speaker refused to allow Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haidery to speak when he tried to support Mr Pirzada.
Mr Pirzada was criticizing President Pervez Musharraf for voicing his support for the construction of the dam during a public address in Nowshera on Wednesday.
Members of the house from both opposition and the treasury asked the government to allow private television channels to cover National Assembly proceedings because they contended that Pakistan Television had failed to cover proceedings properly.
Mrs Khurshid Afghan, an MNA from Sukkur of the Pakistan Muslim League-Functional (PML-F), said that PTV’s monopoly should end. “We speak in the Assembly about issues regarding our constituencies and our electorate should know about what is going on,” she said. She said that her party supported the government, but the government was betraying their trust. Eleven members from both the opposition and the treasury spoke on the issue and supported the view that private channels be allowed to cover NA proceedings. They said PTV only gave coverage to ministers and ignored members of the opposition.
Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, the information minister, expressed his inability to make PTV give more time to NA proceedings in its Khabarnama. “It is prime time for PTV in which each minute costs Rs 125,000. He said he would try to increase the coverage to two minutes if it was possible.
Sheikh Rashid said that if the speaker ruled in favour of this demand and promised compensation for the losses PTV would suffer because of this coverage, he would be more than happy to increase coverage of proceedings.