ISLAMABAD - Lawmakers from the treasury and the opposition benches Thursday criticised the PTI and PAT sit-ins, and hurled a veiled threat of forming a committee to strictly punish those who were involved in attacking the Parliament.
The lawmakers in their fiery speeches in the Parliament’s joint session mostly criticised the protesting parties. Some, however, cautioned the Parliament to be vigilant to forestall further conspiracies, saying the current crisis is a war for power between institutions.
MQM's lawmakers did not attend the session for a second consecutive day as their leader Altaf Hussain has asked them to be ready to resign. Three PTI's splinter MPs were present in the House. The presence of Awami Muslim League head Sheikh Rashid was much noticed but he did not ask to take the floor and left the House after spending not more than half an hour on his seat.
PPP Senator Raza Rabbani, taking part in the debate, threw light on different aspect of the sit-ins and cautioned that it could be a partial victory of the Parliament but still the war is not over. "This is not a first attack on the Parliament as this is war for federation," said Rabbani, adding such kind of conspiracies emerged due to performance of the institutions.
Rabbani viewed that the federation would be at risk if the system was derailed at any stage. "Islamabad situation could have been prevented if this government had drawn attention to the issues of the people," he said and strongly criticised the government for delaying FIR of the Model Town incident. He, at the same time, also came down hard on the heads of protesting parties saying there was no representation of all common in their revolutions. "Where are farmers, labourers, artists, clerks in this sit-in," asked the PPP's leader. The PPP had also faced rigging but the party stressed on staying within the system, he added.
About Qadri's remarks against Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Rabbani warned the PAT chief of settling the score if a finger was raised against the PPP leadership. "We don't want to create a mess as the negotiations are still going on," he cautioned in an emotional style. He accused Tahirul Qadri of inciting violence and then saying he never ordered them to storm in the institutions.
Citing the example of Babri Masjid, he said the Indian extremist leaders had claimed that they never asked their people to bring down the mosque. Rabbani also got applause from the senior lawmakers from different parties on his speech.
Taking the floor, Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal in his aggressive speech advised the protesters to leave their sit-ins and understand the unanimity of the Parliament. "Leave this sit-in and come and share your experience as the PML-N government is planning a cancer hospital in Islamabad," he said advising them that their five out of six demands have been already accepted. "We would not create bloodshed as we want to resolve the issue amicably," he added.
While Ahsan said the PM wants Imran to help construct a new cancer hospital, one of the treasury members pulled a terse taunt: “Mental hospital also.” The treasury members laughed.
Ahsan was of the view the heads of the protesting parties conveyed two different kinds of messages in Urdu and English. "As in Urdu, they asked their workers to attack while in English they pose themselves as the peace-lovers," he said adding that these sit-ins have badly affected the confidence of investors. There was a need to bring revolution against the persons standing left and right of these protesting leaders. He also threatened to form a committee to punish those individuals who were involved in attacking the Parliament. He said that the sequence of events reflects that the Model Town tragedy could have been staged to give an excuse to the PAT chief to lead a march. However, he did not say who ordered the police to raid Qadri’s residence.
Ahsan Iqbal also questioned air time given to the protesting parties by the TVs. At one point, he appeared reverberating Maulana Fazl’s other-day comments that media gives coverage to colourful protests by a handful of girls.
PML-Q Senator Mushahid Hussain lauded the government for adopting negotiations to resolve the issue. He appreciated the government for still not accepting the resignation of the PTI lawmakers. He criticised the government attitude for delaying the FIR in Model Town incident. There was a need to move from 'Mughal mindset' to 'Mandela mindset', he commented.
ANP Senator Haji Adeel, on his turn, citing an example of Bahadur Shah Zafar criticised the government for not properly establishing its writ in Islamabad. He criticised Qadri for his claim about the arrest of his 30,000 workers by the PML-N government. "Tahirul Qadri would not be able to bring even 300 workers in one month," he said and warned the government to improve its performance. "What will happen when farmers, shopkeepers, clerks and common men think for revolution?" he added.
Earlier, Senator Professor Sajid Mir criticised the PAT chief for using derogatory language against PPP leader Khursheed Shah. He said it was a wrong time for the long marches and sit-ins. "Imran Khan is a bowler, not a politician but is bowling bouncers and no-balls."
“Imran was once our hero...,” he added.