ISLAMABAD - The opposition parties including PPP, JI and ANP boycotted Friday’s National Assembly session against the arrest of the OGDCL workers, who were raising voice against privatisation of their organisation.

The opposition lawmakers, except those of MQM, wearing black ribbons around their arms started shouting anti-privatisation slogans when the proceeding started.

These lawmakers, who had also boycotted Thursday’s session, holding placards inscribed with slogans in favour employees of Oil and Gas Development Company Limited (OGDCL) after making speeches left the house and stage a brief sit-in at the entrance of the parliament building.

Taking the floor, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) lawmaker Shazia Marri said they strongly condemn the arrest and rejection of bail of OGDCL employees. She also criticised the derogatory language used by Interior Minister Ch Nisar the other day against opposition parties.

“Why the bail applications of OGDCL employees were rejected despite the assurance from interior minister,” she said, adding that police had manhandled the protesting employees. “We are with workers and support them on all such occasions,” she added. JJI legislator Sahibzada Tariq Ullah said privatisation of a profitable organisation was against national interest. “It is strange that cases have been registered against them (OGDCL employees) and their bail applications have also been cancelled,” he said.

Awami National Party (ANP) MNA Haji Ghulam Bilor, on point of order, said government was adopting double standard as protesting parties (Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and Pakistan Awami Tehreek) who even staged sit-in in Red Zone were enjoying protocol.

“Why the government is adopting double standards, as OGDCL employees were manhandled on their protest but no action was taken against protesting political parties,” he said. “Why government is snatching right to protest of these workers,” he asked, and left the house boycotting the session along with PPP, JI and his own party’s lawmakers.

State Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, responding to the concerns raised by opposition lawmakers, clarified that incumbent government has no plan to privatise the OGDCL.

“They have no plans to lay off workers,” he said, assuring that they would protect the rights of labourers in the country. About police’s resorting to baton-charge the protesters, he argued that Section 144 was already imposed in Islamabad and the protesters not only violated the emergency but also attacked and injured a DSP and a police constable.

“The actual problem of opposition is not the OGDCL issue, rather they are unhappy with the vision of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif which the government has adopted successful economic policies and programs,” he added.

Sheikh Aftab said the opposition parties know that the incumbent government would successfully handle economic and energy crisis in the country and the party will again win the elections in 2018 because of its performance. “Opposition parties should respect mandate of the government, as we also respected PPP’s mandate during their rule,” he added.

The lawmakers mainly from Hindu community, on point of order, raised the issue of abduction of a 13 years old Hindu girl from interior Sindh. Jamaluddin, Mian Abdul Manan and other also supported them and put weight behind their demand to form a joint committee to look into the issue.

Minister for Housing and Works Akram Khan Durrani, in a written reply, said the government plans to start pilot housing projects at Lahore and Jhelum to provide shelter to the homeless people. These projects will be extended to other cities including Skardu, Gilgit, Charsada, Bannu, Lakki Marwat, Dera Ismail khan and Gwadar. A presentation on these projects will shortly be given to the prime minister for approval, he added.

Responding a question Minister of State for Water and Power Abid Sher Ali said the government was investigating the matter of over-billing of electricity bills. Later, Standing Committee for Information and Broadcasting and National Heritage Chairperson Marvi Memon presented before the House the Periodical Report of the Committee for the period November 2013-October 2014.