ISLAMABAD: The opposition Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) on Wednesday went for a boycott of the National Assembly session against what they called the “egoistic posture” of Interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan who, they said, ridiculed the opposition benches.
Walking out from the session, both parties announced boycott of the House proceedings until Nisar withdrew his remark that an opposition party, an apparent reference to PTI, had created a “drama” on verification of voters’ thumb impressions. Despite the demands of opposition leader Khurshid Shah and PTI’s Deputy Parliamentary Leader Shah Mehmood Qureshi, the interior minister did not withdraw his statement, although he explained that he had not referred to the conduct of these parties inside the House but outside, in press conferences.
“The way the minister ridiculed the opposition vitiated the atmosphere of the House,” Shah remarked and referred to conduct of Nisar in Senate last month when the opposition parties were holding their separate meeting outside the Parliament House. More embarrassment came for the government when proceedings resumed after Zuhar prayer break when quorum broke as opposition partied walked out from the House. The session was adjourned for a brief period to let the treasury bring back its members but the quorum could not be completed.
Deputy Speaker Murtaza Javed Abbasi was left with no option but to adjourn the session for Thursday. The tug of war between Interior Minister Nisar and opposition side deprived the members of the chance to speak on law and order situation that was on the order of the day under a motion moved by the government last week. The tension was triggered when opposition leader Shah sought an explanation from the government over what he said was handing over of NADRA to the Election Commission of Pakistan, and statement of the minister that magnetic ink was not used in 60,000 to 70,000 votes in different constituencies, etc.
When Nisar took the floor to respond to the opposition leader, he stated that a political gimmick was being played by a political party, in a reference to the PTI. “A single party is staging a drama over thumb verification of votes and confusion was created over the magnetised ink,” he remarked. Nisar said the government was ready to form a committee headed by a judge to probe the matter, adding that he feared around 60 percent unverified votes in each constituency.
Nisar said that a large number of votes cannot be verified as magnetised ink was apparently not used in all the districts. He said action should be taken against those who could not provide magnetised ink to all the polling stations. As soon as Nisar wound up his speech, opposition members belonging to PPP and PTI rose from their seats and objected to the words “staging of drama”. “Are we puppets that are being moved to stage the drama,” Khrushid Shah retorted angrily.
Shah said that the interior minister should understand that he is in government, and is not an opposition leader. He demanded that the minister withdraw his words otherwise opposition would boycott the session. Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafiq attempted to calm down the opposition but in vain, and the PPP and PTI went for a boycott of the House.
Speaking to media outside parliament, Khurshid Shah called the use of word tamasha by Chaudhry Nisar as “non-parliamentary”. The interior minister has said on Sunday that the election process is being made doubtful by some parties and allegations are being levelled against the government. He said decisions on complaints against elections are the jurisdiction of election tribunal and courts. Nisar said it has been decided with the approval of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif that the administrative control with reference to verification of thumb impressions relating to elections will be transferred to the election commission for three months to ensure transparency.
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