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Tuesday Jun 18 2019

NA session ends in furore, Opp leader Shehbaz unable to complete budget speech


ISLAMABAD: A session of the National Assembly ended in furore on Tuesday following Opposition leader Shehbaz Sharif's third and another failed attempt to complete his speech on Federal Budget 2019-20.

Sharif, also the president of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), was unable to finish his speech despite getting yet another chance to take up a debate on the budget today. Members of the federal government, as well as the Opposition leaders, continued to chant and disrupt the decorum of the session.

To bring the House in order, NA Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri gave a 20-minute break to the participants while PML-N's women members filmed the entire incident despite Suri's orders to refrain from doing so.

Consequently, the deputy speaker had to summon lady staff to confiscate the mobile phones of the PML-N's women members.

Earlier, the NA reconvene with a looming question of whether there would be a debate on the budget, with the government and opposition once again expected to lock horns as the session began.

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government earlier claimed that the budget will be passed, while the opposition remains adamant to block it. The PML-N-led opposition had called a meeting of its parliamentary party over the issue, whereas the PTI was busy meeting allies.

A day prior as well, Sharif was not allowed to start a budget debate. This was the second consecutive session when he could not do so.

There was also a protest by the Pakistan Peoples Party's (PPP) lawmakers over the non-issuance of production orders of former president Asif Ali Zardari.

On Friday, the NA session had ended in chaos after Suri repeatedly urged Sharif to start his speech on the federal budget.

'Ensure sanctity of the House'

Suri, the deputy speaker, also urged lawmakers to follow and respect the code of conduct for members while attending the sitting of the House.

"The Rules have been devised by the members of the House themselves and they should ensure [the] sanctity of the House by following these rules," he said, asking the members to maintain decorum in the House.

Soon after the commencement of the sitting, Suri said copies of Rule 30 in the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in National Assembly 2007 were provided to lawmakers in both Urdu and English. He urged the lawmakers to follow the Rule 30 Conduct of members while present in the Assembly.

Rule 30 reads: 

“A member while the Assembly is sitting, (a) shall not read any book, newspaper or letter except in connection with business of the Assembly; (b) shall not pass between the Chair and any member who is speaking; (c) shall not interrupt any member while speaking by disorderly expression or noises or in any other disorderly manner; (d) shall always address the Chair; (e) shall keep to his usual seat while addressing the Assembly; (f) shall maintain silence when not speaking in the Assembly; (g) shall not obstruct proceedings and shall avoid making running commentaries when speeches are being made in the Assembly; (h) shall not chant slogans, display banners or placards, throw and tear Table documents and reports, etc.; (i) shall not indulge in rowdy behavior (j) shall not approach the dais of the Speaker in a threatening manner; (k) shall not act to erode the sanctity of the House or act in a manner which lowers the dignity of the House; (l) shall not act in any manner detrimental to the order and decorum of the House; (m) shall not applaud when a stranger enters any of the galleries except when a foreign delegation or a foreign dignitary is specially invited to the sitting; (n) shall not while speaking make any reference to a stranger in any of the galleries except when a foreign delegation or a foreign dignitary is specially invited to the sitting; (o) shall not occupy a seat in the galleries nor while in the Chamber engage himself in conversation with any visitor in a gallery; (p) shall not use a mobile telephone; (q) shall not chew or eat or drink or smoke; and (r) shall not bring any stick unless permitted by the Speaker”.

‘Refrain from immature attitude in Parliament’ 

Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting, Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan, asked the Opposition parties on Tuesday to show political maturity in the Parliament and refrain from undue criticism on Prime Minister Imran Khan's government.

The special assistant said the PTI government would be willing to hear valid demands of the Opposition if they preferred national interests over personal agendas.

Awan said the Opposition had acted immaturely during NA session proceedings and did not even bother to listen to the Federal Budget 2019-20 patiently. The Opposition's criticism was always about non-issues, she added.

"Personal insults are hurled by the opposition, whereas opposition needs to respect Prime Minister Imran Khan," she remarked.