Ruckus mars NA proceedings
ISLAMABAD – Opposition and Fata lawmakers continued their boycott of National Assembly proceedings for the fourth consecutive day on Thursday over dropping of the ‘Fata Reforms Bill’ from the agenda by the government.
At the start of the proceedings, the house saw a verbal encounter between government and opposition lawmakers over dropping the bill from the agenda.
The distinctiveness of the Thursday’s proceedings from the preceding three days was the quorum issue as the government successfully survived two failed attempts by the opposition to suspend the work.
Fata member Shah G Gul Afridi made two failed attempts to suspend the proceedings by pointing out the quorum issue when the opposition members left the house in protest. Unlike the previous three days, the required strength for running the house (86 MNAs) was present.
Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Syed Khurshid Shah, on a point of order, made it clear that opposition would become part of the proceedings when the government included the ‘Fata Reforms Bill’ in the agenda.
Shah strongly rejected the opinion of PkMAP chief Mehmood Achakzai saying that they would follow only the rules of Pakistani parliament. “We only follow the Constitution of 1973 not the British Constitution of 1935. We only follow the Constitution of Pakistan and will never accept an ideology of India or Afghanistan,” said Shah mentioning that they would not allow anyone to make Pakistani parliament a ‘rubber stamp’.
Both the allied partners Achakzai and Fazlur Rahman, he said, should have brought this matter to the parliament so that the matter could be resolved by the government, but instead, government dropped it from the agenda.
Earlier, PkMAP chief Achakzai said that there was a need to form a committee involving Fata people to resolve this matter. He said that Fata did not fall in the domain of parliament as the President of Pakistan could make an end to the Frontier Crimes Regulations (FCR). “If you want to do away with the FCR, then this can be done by the President of Pakistan,” he said and suggested to create a ‘supreme council’ to address issues relating to tribal areas.
He said a delegation from Fata also met the army chief and told him that no decision about their fate should be taken without the will of the tribal people. “It could have been much better if Fata areas had been given their own governor,” he said.
He was continuously interrupted by opposition lawmakers during his speech. “I can also give a response but one should not use abusive language,” he said. Deputy Speaker Murtaza Javed Abbasi repeatedly asked the opposition members not to create rumpus in the house.
Minister for Safron Abdul Qadir Baloch, responding to opposition’s concerns, assured that the Fata reforms bill would surely be brought to the parliament. “Parliamentary leaders would meet the prime minister to discuss the issue,” he said.
Baloch clarified that the government had withheld the bill due to some technical reasons. He hoped that the bill will be tabled in the house in a day or two.
Qaumi Watan Party chief Aftab Sherpao also supported the opposition leader in following the Constitution of Pakistan over Fata issue.
PPP’s Naveed Qamar said that the government should bring the ‘Fata Reforms Bill’ to the parliament, otherwise, they would continue their protest.
Minister for National Food Security and Research Sikandar Hayat Bosan, on a point of order, told the house that no proposal was under consideration to reduce import duty on maize.
The house also passed two bills, “The Women in Distress and Detention Fund (Amendment) Bill, 2017” and “The Rulers of Acceding States (Abolition of Privy Purses and Privileges) (Amendment) Bill, 2017”.