Stepping over torn agenda copies costs opposition dearly: Treasury flings barbs of blasphemy at opposition

LAHORE: The opposition in Punjab Assembly which continued its protest against the deputy speaker and the PML-N government on sixth day of the current session on Friday has been accused by the treasury of committing blasphemy by tearing up copies of agenda, throwing papers containing names of God, prophet and religious figures on the ground, and stepping over the same.

Not only on the floor of the house, treasury members held a media talk after adjournment of Friday’s proceedings to level the allegations of blasphemy against 27 members of the opposition who tore up the agenda copies and trampled the floor of the house dotted with torn papers.

Led by Waheed Gull, treasury members, including Abdul Razaque Dhilloon, Shehzadi Kabir, Shah Jahan and others, told the media that the opposition members were involved in committing the “sin” deliberately.

They also demanded of the speaker to form an inquiry committee besides taking action against the opposition members according to the blasphemy laws. In what appeared to be an attack on the chief of the main opposition party in the assembly, the treasury members were carrying placards, inscribed with phrases like ‘(PTI Chairman) Imran Khan is son-in-law of Jews’. 

During the Friday’s session, some of the 27 members of opposition parties, including the PTI, PPP, PML-Q and JI, led by the Opposition Leader Mian Mehmoodur Rasheed, continued their protest in front of the speaker’s desk and resorted to sloganeering. As per parliamentary tradition, they tore up the agenda copies as usual and flung the torn copies towards the chair, which, however, landed on the flour of the house.

PTI members Sadia Sohail Rana and Rahila Anwar brought toy trumpets in the house and started blowing the same to create unprecedented noise. This was for the first time in history of the house that such a unique way of agitation was adopted.

Female members from the treasury benches also unfurled placards in the house to tease the opposition.

Deputy Speaker Sher Ali Gorchani, who was in the chair, took serious notice of the acts performed by members both from the opposition as well as the treasury. He warned the female members of the treasury to put down their placards and similarly to the opposition members to avoid ‘childish acts’ of resorting to blowing trumpets.

Furthermore, he warned the opposition members against repeatedly tearing up agenda copies as the printed material contains the name of God and prophet.

Soon after this warning, some of the treasury members including Waheed Gull, Abdul Razaque Dhilloon, Rana Arshad, tried to cash in on the situation. They came forward and started collecting torn papers spread all over the floor.

The opposition remained successful in its strategy to create some trouble for the government and the chair in running the assembly business smoothly, making it necessary for the chair to adjourn the session without holding debate on the law and order. The session started one hour and 25 minutes late than scheduled 9am time. At the outset, opposition member Ahsan Riaz Fatiana pointed out quorum, as only 42 members were present in the house instead of required 94 members. The chair adjourned the house for 30 minutes. During question hour, Col (r) Shuja Khanzada answered questions relating to Environment Protection Department.

Instead of replying to the first supplementary question about performance of his department, the minister started praising Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif for finalising Orange Line Metro Train Project agreement with China.

This irrelevant answer provided the opposition members with an opportunity to agitate and they started chanting protest slogans like ‘Fake mandate unacceptable’, ‘Friends of America are traitors’, ‘Go Gorchani go’. They also chanted some religious slogans after the treasury hurled allegations of blasphemy at them.

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