Islamabad - Mehmood Khan Achakzai yesterday took exception to the absence of ministers and members from the National Assembly.

The chief of government coalition partner Pashtunkhwa Milli Awami Party said that even those present in the house were busy in gossips.

He said that a drone attack was carried out in Qila Saifullah on Thursday and a firing incident occurred at the office of the political agent in North Waziristan. “Someone should at least tell the House what is going on,” he remarked.

PPP lawmaker Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho expressed strong reservations on the statement of finance adviser Miftah Ismail, who said the other day that the Pakistan Steel Mills could be given as ‘complimentary’ to the one who would pay for the PIA assets.

She said that the statement was very inappropriate and showed the overall non-seriousness of the government on sensitive matters.

To a question, the parliamentary secretary told the House that computerised national identity cards have been issued to 114.19 million people in the country.

He said that the government was facilitating people to get their particulars registered with the National Database and Registration Authority after attaining the age of 18 and there was no policy to issue identity cards to foreigners.

Replying a question, Parliamentary Secretary for Planning and Development Dr Ibadullah said that allocations under the Public Sector Development Programme-2017-2018 had been raised to Rs101 for the first time in country’s history.

On a calling-attention notice, Parliamentary Secretary for Cabinet Secretariat Raja Javed Ikhlas said that one million new gas connections were being given after lifting a moratorium on it. He said that new gas connections were being given purely on merit and on a need basis.

Journalists stage walkout

Journalists covering the parliamentary proceedings staged a walkout in protest against the assault on Waqt TV team by the staff of the federal ombudsperson on protection against harassment of women at the workplace.

The acting speaker sent Defence Production Minister Rana Tanvir and State Minister for Religious Affairs Pir Aminul Hasnat to the press gallery to listen to the grievances of the journalists.

Anchor Waqt TV Matiullah Jan told them that the newly appointed federal ombudsperson, Kashmala Tariq, told her staff to snatch the footage of her interview after she got furious over some questions during the talk.

Matiullah said that on the order of the ombudsperson, the security staff mishandled him and tortured and punched the news team and held them hostage.

He demanded an FIR and action against the culprits as per the law. The protesting journalists also demanded legal action against those who tortured journalists at Metro Watch office in Rawalpindi.

Rana Tanvir informed the House about the journalists’ demands and pointed out a committee to address grievances of journalists should be made functional again.

The acting speaker promised to take appropriate action over the matter. The House was later prorogued.