ISLAMABAD: A day after the National Assembly witnessed a brawl between lawmakers from the opposition Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq declared on Friday that the house would not conduct any business till a decision on the way forward was taken by the parliamentary leaders.
The proceedings of the assembly were adjourned by the speaker for 30 minutes prior to a meeting of the parliamentary leaders to discuss Thursday’s unpleasant incident that ended without a decision. The speaker later informed the house that more time was required to reach a decision and adjourned it to meet again on Monday at 4pm. The parliamentary leaders in the National Assembly will also meet an hour before the session’s time.
A highlight of the parliamentary leaders’ meeting was an offer of resignation from the speaker if the opposition has objections against him. Mr Sadiq told reporters that all the parliamentary leaders had said in response to his offer that they had full confidence in him.
Speaker says Afridi was suspended over failure to declare assets
He said the participants had agreed that all that happened was unfortunate and was not good for democracy and sanctity of parliament. He said the practice of trading allegations and shouting slogans in the house must come to an end.
The speaker had summoned the footage of the incident but disclosed that it was not played during the meeting. He said the matter involved excesses from both sides.
Stranger in the house
He also talked about the role of a ‘stranger in the house’ in the scuffle and said the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had suspended the membership of PTI MNA Shahryar Afridi for his failure to submit his annual statement of assets and liabilities.
He said the NA secretarial staff went to Mr Afridi thrice to inform him that his membership was suspended and he could not take part in the proceedings, but he insisted he had submitted the statement. He was told that a notification for the restoration of his membership had not been issued by the ECP, but he refused to leave the house.
The speaker said that had he been informed by the staff, he would not have run the proceedings till the exit of the ‘stranger’ from the house.
An ECP official, when contacted, confirmed that Mr Afridi’s membership remained suspended. He said the membership of 66 MNAs had been suspended on Nov 15 and 65 of them had since submitted the required details. He revealed that Mr Afridi had submitted his statement to the ECP on Friday.
The official said the notification for the restoration of his membership would most probably be issued on Monday, after its approval by the commission.
The speaker said suggestions were made by the participants regarding respect of women members and the political leadership and avoiding a physical showdown.
He said one of the suggestions was that the parliamentary leaders make statements in the house deploring the incident. He said it was the responsibility of the senior leaders of each party to stop their members from using language that could trigger a brawl or disrupt the proceedings.
He said some parliamentary leaders wanted to consult their party leaderships and they would meet again on Monday to reach a decision.
Talking to reporters, PTI leader Shah Mehmood Qureshi said that no decision could be taken at the meeting but all the parties had condemned the incident. He said he would prepare a strategy after meeting Leader of Opposition Syed Khurshid Shah.
“The things will deteriorate if the membership of our member is suspended,” Mr Qureshi said.
He held some ministers responsible for vitiating the atmosphere. He said seriousness of ministers could lead to a congenial environment in the assembly.
The PTI submitted a privilege motion against PML-N lawmakers, including Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Mian Mannan and retired Capt Safdar, over the brawl.
The motion signed by 23 MNAs was submitted to the assembly secretariat. According to the motion, the PML-N lawmakers moved towards the opposition side and took physical aim at PTI MNAs while hurling abuses against them during the session.“This attack by the PML-N MNAs led to an outbreak of fisticuffs instigated by PML-N MNAs,” it said.
The party alleged that MNA Mannan had made an obscene gesture towards the PTI MNAs, including women, during the speech of its deputy parliamentary leader, Mr Qureshi.
The assembly turned into a battlefield on Thursday as the scuffle broke out between both parties’ lawmakers who exchanged blows and slaps and pushed one another. Both sides hold each other responsible for starting the braw