Tuesday Feb 25, 2020
PESHAWAR: As the protest in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Provincial Assembly entered its fifth day on Tuesday, opposition lawmakers registered their protests by standing up on their seats.
The opposition was protesting against what they referred to as KP Assembly Speaker Mushtaq Ahmad Ghani's "partial and indifferent attitude".
They stood up on their seats in the assembly, chanted slogans, and banged their hands on desks while the PPP's Nighat Orakzai whistled to record her protest, despite Ghani asking her not to do so. Amid the chaos and tension, security staff surrounded the speaker's dais.
In spite of the ongoing tensions, the assembly approved some of the proposed bills as opposition lawmakers continued slamming their desks.
On the first day of the protest, opposition parties had called out Ghani's "partial and indifferent attitude" while the treasury benches continued their assembly business and introduced several important bills and motions.
On the second day, as the opposition continued the protest and some lawmakers were involved in a scuffle and exchanging harsh words, the Speaker passed the Land Acquisition Act for the newly-merged districts — tabled by Law Minister Sultan Muhammad Khan during the ear-deafening shouting from both sides of the House.
On the third day, just after recitation of the Holy Quran, members from the joint opposition turned to the podium but the security staff surrounded the speaker’s dais to prevent any untoward incident. The protesting lawmakers chanted slogans of "atta chor, cheeni chor [flour thief, sugar thief!"].
Regardless, the speaker continued the proceedings according to the agenda and announced the lapse of the questions, as well as the adjournment and privilege motions. The call attention notices were disposed of amid the opposition's shouting.
On the fourth day, the opposition entered the House and turned to the podium when the last bill was put to a vote and started shouting "No, no". They circled the speaker’s dais and chanted slogans against him but he continued the proceedings amid the shouting and noise.
Some of the opposition members started whistling.
A security officer tried to snatch the mic but the protesting opposition legislators refused to hand it over to him. The speaker said such gadgets should not be allowed and the security staff must ensure such tools were not brought to the building.
The treasury benches responded in the same coin and accused the opposition of deliberately disturbing the assembly proceedings.
Both the government and opposition blamed each other for demonstrating a non-serious attitude about running the assembly affairs and holding serious negotiations. Concluding the agenda, however, the speaker adjourned the sitting for Tuesday at 2PM.
Later, Sardar Hussain Babak told media that they wanted to hold talks with the government and had accepted an offer of negotiation from Shaukat Yousufzai and Qalandar Lodhi. "Instead of holding serious talks, they dodged the opposition and passed the bills taking advantage of our absence," he claimed.