PESHAWAR - Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly Monday witnessed an ugly situation when a protesting treasury lawmaker was forced out of the house not by the sergeant-at-arms but by one of his colleagues.
Babar Saleem, a member form ruling alliance partner Awami Jamhoori Ittehad (AJI), was protesting against the injustices meted out to him in the development schemes of his constituency when he was forced out by Muhammad Ali, a member of Jamaat Islami (JI) which is also partner in the coalition government in the province.
The provincial assembly met with Speaker Asad Qaiser in the chair. Babar took the floor on the point of order to speak about the injustice meted out to him by his coalition partners. AJI lawmaker alleged that PTI led-provincial government has diverted development funds from his electoral constituency PK-31 to the constituency of a woman legislator elected on reserve seat.
AJI headed by Shahram Khan Tarakai, who is a senior minister in the provincial cabinet and holds the important portfolios of Health and Information Technology, is a coalition partner in the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) led government.
Babar Saleem told the house that his parliamentary party has seven per cent share in the resources of the Public Health Engineering (PHE) and during last financial year the share was given to them. But this year, he said, his electorates have been deprived of their rights. He said that his share in the development schemes had been given to a woman legislator elected on reserved seat.
In response, Provincial Minister for Public Health Engineering (PHE) Shah Farman said that the final approval of the schemes of his department is given by the chief minister. He said that opposition has already expressed reservations over the policy of the department.
The reply of the minister could not satisfy Babar Saleem, who came out in the open space of the house and staged a sit-in in front of speaker’s dice. However, JI’s Parliamentary Secretary Muhammad Ali came forward and took Babar to the nearby retiring room.
The treatment meted out to the protesting treasury legislator also attracted protest from opposition legislators and they stood up to stage walkout while expressing solidarity with him. However, Speaker Asad Qaiser felt the seriousness of the situation and adjourned the proceedings of the house for prayers and tea break.
After the break, Leader of Opposition Lutfur Rehman expressed regret over the incident. He said that only speaker is authorised to expel any member from the house and no house member enjoy any such powers. He said it is the right of all the members to stage protest and speak for rights of their electorate. He said that the government should have taken the matter seriously and the minister should have given him proper assurance of resolving the issue.
Senior Minister for Local Government Inayatullah said that Babar Saleem is a member of the treasury benches and is entitled to equal rights. He said that they fully accept his right for raising voice for the people of his constituency. However, he said that in such situation other members can intervene. He said the JI member is his friend and they talked on the issue in the retiring room. He said that giving different colour to the incident was not justifiable.
On this occasion, Adviser to CM Amjad Afridi also took the floor and said that the chief minister has assured about redressal of his grievances. Treasury MPA Babar Saleem also told the house about the assurance given to him by the chief minister. However, he also requested the speaker for expunging any un-parliamentary words he might have uttered. He also paid special thanks to opposition members for extending their support to him.
Meanwhile, the house also passed the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Delimitation of Local Councils Bill, 2015 while the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Technical Education and Vocational Training Authority (Tevta) Bill, 2015 was referred to the Select Committee of the house. The speaker adjourned the proceedings till 2pm today (Tuesday).