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ISLAMABAD: A day after opposition and treasury MPs hurled abuses and threw copies of budget documents at each other, Speaker National Assembly Asad Qaiser on Wednesday barred seven lawmakers – three from ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and four from opposition parties – from entering the House.

The NA Speaker said that members who disrupted the session during the opposition leader in National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif's speech are barred from entering the House as their conduct was “grossly disorderly” during Tuesday session.

He continued that the members who have been suspended violated the rules and despite repeated warnings of the chair, interrupted House proceedings.

Out of the total seven members who have been barred from entering the House till further orders by the NA Speaker include Ali Gohar Khan (PML-N), Chaudhary Hamid (PML-N), Sheikh Rohail Asghar (PML-N), Faheem Khan (PTI), Abdul Majeed Khan (PTI), Ali Nawaz Awan (PTI) and Agha Rafiullah (PPP).

The Speaker said that the members have been told not to enter the precinct of Parliament House till further orders.

Ali Nawaz Awan, the special assistant to the prime minister on Capital Development Authority (CDA) affairs, has also been suspended as he also used derogatory language against a PML-N MNA Sheikh Rohail Asghar – the man equally guilty as he responded in the same tone to Awan.

On Tuesday, the NA witnessed ugly scenes when the opposition leader wanted to open budget debate – a customary speech to open the forum for debate on the budget, but hooting from both sides led to chaos and fighting in the House, forcing the chair to adjourn the proceedings.

This is pertinent to mention that NA Speaker called on Prime Minister Imran Khan before taking the decision to bar the entry of the seven lawmakers from entering the Assembly hall.

He also held telephonic calls with Shehbaz Sharif and Pakistan People’s party (PPP) parliamentary leader Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari about what could be done with regard to pandemonium in National Assembly.

Earlier, the proceedings of the House were suspended twice as both treasury and opposition sides were not ready to show any flexibility for smooth running of the house proceedings, accusing each other for Tuesday mayhem.

National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser adjourned Wednesday session minutes after it started as treasury members continued their protest for the third consecutive day to disrupt the opposition leader’s budget speech.

Surrounded by sergeants, Sharif made yet another attempt for the third time to deliver his speech amid sloganeering from the treasury benches but was cut short as they kept shouting anti-PML-N slogans despite repeated warning from NA Speaker.

The Speaker kept requesting the lawmakers to be seated but all fell on deaf ear eventually forcing the chair to adjourn the session after an object was thrown at the Speaker’s dais.

He ordered for whoever had thrown the object to be escorted from the House and said he would take strict action against the individual responsible.

“I will not conduct this House (NA) until both the government and the opposition settle their matters,” said Qaiser before walking out, adjourning the session till Thursday at 12pm.

Shehbaz, during his speech, condemned Tuesdays incident and said it was Qaiser's duty to maintain the sanctity of the House and run it in accordance with the law.

“I want to inform that it was the decision of our party and the opposition that if the opposition's speeches were peacefully listened to then we would reciprocate and listen to the leader of the House's speech [prime minister],” he said, adding that Qaiser had failed to keep the treasury members in check over the last two days.

“I am saddened by your helplessness,” he said, and alleged that the behaviour of treasury members had been sanctioned by Prime Minister Imran Khan himself by sitting from the PM Secretariat,” he alleged.

Meanwhile, the joint opposition in National Assembly said that they cannot have any confidence in NA Speaker impartiality or ability to run the House according to parliamentary norms and traditions, unless he initiates immediate action to fix responsibility of the appalling events that unfolded during the speech of the opposition leader, and takes exemplary action against those found guilty.

In a letter to the Speaker, they said that the decision taken by the Speaker on the issue will either restore the dignity of the Parliament and the Speaker or destroy them forever.

They mentioned that tens of treasury MNA's led by several government ministers verbally abused and physically attacked the opposition leader as he was making the opening speech on the Budget 2021-22 on behalf of the opposition, adding the copies of the budget documents were hurled at him and other members of the opposition.

They said that Qaiser was the custodian of the House and was responsible to maintain decorum, and protect the dignity of the members and the house.

The opposition said this was the first occasion in the history of the National Assembly and possibly parliamentary history worldwide, that treasury MNAs and ministers defied the Speaker and physically attacked the opposition.

They accused the speaker of turning a blind eye and remaining silent on the violence and abuse that unfolded before his eyes.

They said the decision of withdrawal of seven MNAs from National Assembly precincts by NA Speaker does not even come close to recognizing the gravity of these events, is in violation of the rules, and is not acceptable.

The letter signed by leaders of all opposition political parties said it was unfortunate that the leader of the house has been absent and silent over these events, adding it is inconceivable that such behavior by the treasury MNAs and ministers could have taken place without his consent.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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