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Pandemonium as PTI returns to parliament

* Govt, opp criticise speaker for allowing Qureshi to speak after ‘resignation’ * Lawmakers chant slogans as PTI leader says his party is not part of alliance to undermine democracy


ISLAMABAD: The joint sitting of parliament on Wednesday appeared divided on the resignations of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)’s lawmakers from the National Assembly, with the various parliamentary parties on different wavelengths after the party’s legislators turned up in the session.
PTI’s lawmakers led by Shah Mahmood Qureshi took their seats in the session amidst the cheers of fellow lawmakers, but they did not announce their resignations on the floor of House. “I have no qualm to admit that this House is dear to me,” he declared while clarifying that the PTI is not part of any grand alliance to undermine democracy. Interrupted by members of the treasury as well as some opposition parties who kept chanting “shame, shame”, Qureshi called for shunning egoistic attitude for resolution of the crisis.
The lawmakers from the treasury side and its allies kept taunting Shah Mahmood Qureshi, but he continued his speech. As PTI lawmakers left the House after Qureshi finished his speech, the joint session of parliament plunged into disorder and pandemonium for allowing the PTI leader to speak in the House after he resigned from it. The ruling PML-N and its ally JUI-F as well as opposition Awami National Party (ANP) strongly objected to the time given to Qureshi and even criticised Speaker Ayaz Sadiq for allowing him to speak on the floor of the House.
Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) took a contrary view by favouring the PTI leader’s speech in the House. “This is victory for parliament that the PTI came back to the House”, leader of opposition in National Assembly Khursheed Shah stated. Speaker Ayaz Sadiq, who was in an awkward position for allowing Qureshi to speak, said that he had delayed acceptance of PTI’s resignations on the request of the opposition parties to resolve the political crisis. 
Earlier, Qureshi distanced his party from Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT)’s storming of parliament and said that the PTI had objected to the PAT’s move to rush to the Prime Minister’s House. “Imran Khan also ordered to vacate the PTV headquarters when he came to know about it,” he told the House. Qureshi said that prime minister’s resignation was the sticking point in the negotiations with the government side led by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar. Dar, however, flared up when Shah was narrating the details of these negotiations. 
Qureshi said his party’s sit-in was peaceful and within the law and vowed to oppose any extra-constitutional move. Taking the floor Khursheed Shah objected to impatience on the part of lawmakers from treasury side and advised them to exercise restraint, saying “victory” has almost been secured after Qureshi turned up in the House. He, however, cautioned that conspiracies are still being hatched and that they would be countered with patience. 
Meanwhile, veteran parliamentarian Mahmood Khan Achakzai strongly objected to grant of permission to Qureshi to speak in the House. He suggested that a well-worded resolution should be adopted by the house to declare the attack on parliament, PTV and Secretariat unconstitutional and sought the guarantee of Speaker Ayaz Sadiq and Khrusheed Shah to get it signed from Qureshi. Aftab Ahmed Sherpao also backed Achakzai and asked the speaker why was the PTI lawmaker “allowed to humiliate the house members” and then allowed to leave. JUI-F chief Fazlur Rahman also sought clarification for allowing Qureshi to speak. “Was it legal? Did they come in and submit their resignations themselves?” he asked. 
The joint parliamentary session on Tuesday had called for registering cases against PTI chief Imran Khan and PAT head Tahirul Qadri “for waging a rebellion against the state”. The specially convened joint session of both the houses of parliament, chaired by National Assembly Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq roared against the two protesting parties for storming parliament and PTV headquarters and showed concern over the perceived weaknesses of state institutions to tackle them effectively. The PML-N government heaved a sigh of relief on the back of all parliamentary groups’ support in the House for continuity of system, however, it received strong criticism from the opposition parties which recommended the government mend its ways, saying things have come to a head “because of its misdeeds”.

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