ISLAMABAD - Opposition members would be holding a breakfast meeting with Leader of Opposition in Senate Ch Aitzaz Ahsan to devise some joint strategy to lodge their protest, on the occasion of President’s address to the Joint Sitting of Parliament, against the prime minister, who never turned up in the Upper House since assuming office.
Opposition parties sources informed The Nation that so far the they were not on same page regarding holding of joint protest against PM Nawaz Sharif during the Joint Sitting of the Parliament and the final decision would be made at the residence of Ch Aitzaz this morning. According to amended rules, prime minister is required to attend the upper house once in a week.
They said that after some high-level contacts between the leadership of Pakistan People’s Party and ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz the chances of PPP boycotting the Presidential address are slim and in Monday breakfast meeting Aitzaz Ahsan would likely convince the other opposition parties in the Upper House - including PML-Q, ANP, MQM and BNP (Awami) - to defer the plan and record their concern during the upcoming budget session.
A source in PPP, who is close to the party leadership, said that final decision to lodge protest and boycott the Joint Sessions would be made after the breakfast meeting. He however denied any contact between the top leadership of PPP and PML-N to stall the Monday’s boycott, quickly adding that they would make decision in the best interest of the Parliamentary democracy and not indulge in anything which could harm or defame the system.
A couple of days back Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly Syed Khursheed Shah had made it clear that the issue of prime minister’s not attending the Senate proceedings pertained to the Upper House of the Parliament so there was no question of agitation by the PPP in the National Assembly, dropping the hint that in Joint Sitting his party would not be boycotting the President’s address.
But sources in PML-Q and ANP said that their parties would record their concern during the Presidential address and would stage walkout from the house the moment President Mamnoon Hussain would rise to deliver his maiden address. These sources said they would convince the Leader of Opposition in this regard so that a unanimous and strong message could go to the PM for undermining the Upper House of the Parliament.
The sources further said that they would also hold joint press conference after boycotting the Joint Sitting to present their point of view to media and to make the public realise how much respect the PML-N Premier is according to the Parliament.
Meanwhile, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, which so far has no representation in the Senate, could also launch protest during the Presidential address to record their protest on rigging in the general elections and government’s indifferent attitude toward rectifying the things. Sources in the PTI said that they have totally different agenda of protest and they would also finalise their strategy in the Parliamentary Party meeting ahead of the Joint Session of the Parliament.
The ruling PML-N and main opposition PPP would also be holding their separate Parliamentary parties meeting before the Joint Session to give final touches to their strategy for this historic event.
President Mamnoon Hussain is all set to address the joint session of the Parliament for kicking off the new parliamentary year today as the otherwise calm opposition PPP, among other issues, seems to be angry over ‘implication’ of its senior leaders in corruption cases.
The president’s address to both houses of the parliament is mandatory under Article 6 of the constitution in which he would also discuss the one-year performance of government, besides highlighting the challenges faced by the country. He, according to informed officials, would present a roadmap to the government for the next year in his maiden speech to joint session.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, ministers, members of the parliament, chief ministers, governors and Prime Minister Azad Kashmir besides the chiefs of the three armed forces and Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee will attend the joint session.
On Saturday, former President Asif Ali Zardari who is co-chairman of the main opposition PPP in National Assembly and Senate, had deplored the government for what he called political victimisation of PPP leaders in the name of accountability. It is strange that in making references only the public representatives have been accused of wrongdoing and not a single sponsor of the power projects has been indicted, a statement quoted former President Zardari as saying.