Rumpus in NA as Fata reforms bill dropped from agenda

ISLAMABAD – The opposition and Fata lawmakers in Monday’s National Assembly created a rumpus for dropping the ‘Fata reforms bill’ from the agenda and left the House in protest.

The proceedings, soon after the ‘question-hour’, could not be run further due to heavy anti-government sloganeering by the opposition members in the House. Most of the lawmakers tore copies of the day’s agenda and gathered around the speaker’s podium in protest. The House echoed with slogans of ‘No-to-FCR’ chanted by the protesting lawmakers in full voice.

Fata lawmaker Shahabuddin Khan from the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz pointed out the issue in an emotional tone. “Why the government has changed the order-of-the-day and did not mention ‘Fata reforms bill’ in it,” said Shahabuddin, alleging that “this is not their agenda ‘rather it is the agenda of dacoits’.

Fata MNA Shah G Gul Afridi also joined him raising the voice for Fata reform. “We don’t want to be traitors…Should we leave the country as this Parliament has nothing for them,” said Afridi repeatedly from his seat. However, his remarks could not become part of the proceedings as he failed to get the floor despite repeated attempts.

Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Khursheed Shah, sensing the messy situation in the House, took the floor to compel the government to share the reasons behind the exclusion of ‘Fata reforms bill’ from the agenda.

“Isn’t it a joke with the Parliament …the government should explain the reasons for not including the bill in the agenda,” said Shah mentioning that he had already predicted that the bill would not pass from the House. “Why the bill was removed from the agenda as a federal minister himself had announced that the bill would be on the agenda of the House on Monday.”

PTI’s deputy parliamentary leader Shah Mahmood Qureshi observed that the PML-N government was creating an atmosphere in country’s politics to serve the wishes of a few personalities. “Can you (minister) please spell out for what reasons the bill was dropped from the agenda of the House,” Qureshi said.

“Did the incumbent government realize as to what political situation it was going to create in the country?” he said. The leader of the opposition, during the speeches of opposition lawmakers, announced to stage a walkout as a protest against government’s move.

Opposition members, unsatisfied with explanations from Minister for Safron Abdul Qadar Baloch and Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Sheikh Aftab, left the House in the protest.

The opposition, as per its previous practice, left the hall leaving one of its members to point-out the required quorum ostensibly to suspend the proceedings. They successfully suspended the proceedings as the chair adjourned the House due to the lack of strength.

Sheikh Aftab clarified that there was a need for further consultation on the Fata reforms bill. “The federal government will table the bill in the near future after the necessary discussion,” said Aftab.

Qadar Baloch said that it was the privilege of the government to exclude it from the agenda. “It was not mentioned on the agenda for further deliberation,” he said.

Fata parliamentarians had a number of times have warned the federal government to fully implement the proposed ‘Fata reforms bill’, otherwise, they would not allow it to run Parliament and other main institutions. The Fata lawmakers had asked the government to take practical steps for Fata reforms including representation of Fata in 2018 general election, proper share in the National Finance Award.

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