ISLAMABAD - The habitual bossy attitude of Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan provoked the two major opposition parties, PTI and PPP, to boycott the National Assembly session on Wednesday saying they would return to the House only when PML-N politician eats his words.
The minister provoked the strong reaction from the opposition when he remarked that Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) has made a Tamasha (fuss) out of the issue of thumb impression verification of votes cast in the general elections.
A major contradiction was also seen between the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and government's stance on the issue of use of magnetised ink during the general elections when interior minister said that according to government's initial inquiry the ink was not used at a number of polling stations in many constituencies.
The minister also reiterated his accusation against the opposition that it was hatching a conspiracy for mid-term polls that was refuted by the major opposition parties. Initially, both the PTI and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) demanded that minister should take back his ‘Tamasha’ remark as it was un-parliamentary but when Nisar seemed not ready to eat his words, they boycotted the sitting.
Leader of the Opposition in NA Syed Khurshid Shah said that the opposition would continue the boycott till withdraw of the statement. The minister was not ready to accept that Tamasha was an un-parliamentary word but upon seeing strong reaction from the opposition he tried to twist his statement saying that he did not say that PTI made a fuss about the vote verification issue inside the House, rather, he had said that PTI did a Tamasha outside the parliament, on the roads.
Khurshid Shah strongly reacting on the minister's statement asked the chair to order for replaying the recording of the House proceedings so the confusion could be removed. Shah said that interior minister was so egoist that he did not want to withdraw his statement. He reminded that earlier a bad situation was created in the Senate due to Nisar’s statement and now he wanted to pollute the atmosphere of the assembly.
However, neither the treasury benches wanted to get the recorder turned on nor the minister wanted to withdraw his words after the opposition boycotted the House proceedings. Meanwhile, PPP's Lal Chand pointed out the quorum and after a short break, the speaker adjourned the House until Thursday due to lack of quorum.
The bad episode started when Khurshid Shah sought clarification from the government saying that it was confusing a number of issues including the use of magnetised ink, placement of Nadra under the administrative control of ECP and formation of a committee under Justice (r) Wajihur Rehman to oversee the thumb impression verification process.
Mr Shah said that government stance on the use of magnetised ink was different from the ECP, which had asserted that it was used in the general elections at all polling stations. He said that the country could not be run on adhocism and the opposition wanted clarity on these issues. He also assured the government that opposition did not want any mid-term polls as the country was facing many major challenges.
"A party here made a tamasha of thumb impression verification issue," Interior Minister Nisar replied, adding that he wanted to clear the confusion rather making it more complex. He said there was a proposal to give ECP oversight powers over the thumb impression verification process by the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra).
He made it clear that Nadra was not being given under the administrative control of ECP as the authority was under the interior ministry, which has written to the ECP seek its consent.
"We are ready to form a committee under Justice Wajih to oversee the affairs of verification process of Nadra," he said. "I want to give a blank cheque to the opposition on this issue as it would be done in the way as it wants," he remarked. The minister said that according to government probe, magnetised ink was not used in many areas of a number of constituencies. He said that the issue was not that the thumb impressions on the ballot papers were fake but these were unverifiable due to the non-use of magnetic ink. He said those responsible for it should be brought to justice.
Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique responding the opposition said PTI should add four constituencies – of Imran Khan, Pervez Khatak, Shafqat Mahmood and Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed – in the list of four constituencies where they wanted thumb impression verification. He referred a judgement of Justice Kazim Ali Malik in which the judge withdrew himself from the tribunal over the attitude of PTI's lawyers. He said that PTI was creating hurdles in the hearings of election tribunals on one hand and on the other hand saying that tribunals were not deciding the cases.
Earlier, Parliamentary Secretary of Finance Rana Muhammad Afzal Khan clarified that the banks had set the mandatory condition of providing guarantor to obtain loans under Prime Minister's Youth Loan Programme and it was not the condition of the government. He said total 15 percent mark up would be charged on the loans being given under the programme.
"Out of the total mark up, the government would pay 7 percent mark up from its own resources to facilitate the scheme," he said. He said the government as well as State Bank of Pakistan was fully monitoring the scheme.