Lawmakers lob shoes, slurs at each other

Punjab Assembly

LAHORE: The Punjab Assembly (PA) session on Wednesday was marred by exchange of abusive language and shoe throwing between the opposition and treasury members.

The treasury members used vulgar language for opposition’s women colleagues to settle scores with them as they (opposition) had resorted to sloganeering, thereby, interrupting the chief minister eight times during his speech in the House on Tuesday. The treasury members were especially annoyed with three women members of the opposition – Seemal Kamran, Samina Khawar Hayyat and Amna Ulfat. As the verbal fight gained momentum, the legislators resorted to throwing shoes at each other. Thereafter, the Speaker constituted a three-member committee to resolve the matter.

To protest against the treasury’s attitude, the opposition staged a walkout. The government, meanwhile, succeeded in getting approved all 43 demands asking for funds of Rs 782 billion for the fiscal year 2012-13. The PA session on Wednesday started one hour, two minutes late from its scheduled time, under the chairmanship of Speaker Rana Muhammad Iqbal Khan. After recitation from the holy Quran, Seemal tried to speak on the issue of “Punjab government using protests as political weapon against opposition”, however, the Speaker did not allow her to continue and instead, commenced discussion on a privilege motion.

Upon this, the women legislator became angry and said that opposition members were being victimised on the directions of Law Minister Rana Sanaullah and their (opposition) lives were in danger, yet, the Speaker was not ready to listen to them. She condemned the Speaker for not allowing her to speak on the issue, warning of retaliation from the opposition if “victimisation in name of load shedding protests” was not stopped. She also demanded registration of a case against Sanaullah for deteriorating law and order situation, especially pointing towards the Kamaliya incident.

Meanwhile, another member of the PML-Q, Muhammad Yar Hiraj, stood on his bench and alleged that he and his children were being victimised by a sitting provincial minister, as a group of violent protesters had been roaming around his house for last three days on the directions of that minister. Calling it “state-sponsored terrorism”, he said that he was being targeted because the said mob had not attacked the WAPDA office or other parliamentarians’ houses situated in he area.

In order to register his protest against this “victimisation”, Hiraj walked out of the House, declaring he would not return unless the mob circling his house was dispersed. To express solidarity with the legislator, other opposition members also walked out with him. At this point, Seemal pointed out the quorum, which was, however, completed after some time. When the session restarted, PML-Q’s Ch Zaheer stood up on a point of order and condemned the massive load shedding and authorities responsible for it. In response to this, Sanaullah said that the federal government should first end the 22-hour-long load shedding in Punjab, which would automatically be followed by peace and end of protests against load shedding.

Opposition’s Major (r) Abdur Rehman moved a privilege motion against police, saying he was forced by Jarranwala SP to not carry any weapons for protection during his movements. He said he too was against load shedding and had participated in a protest being staged in his area, Khararriyawala, on Tuesday in order to stop the protesters from resorting to violence or damaging protest. The police, however, launched an FIR against him along with 50 other workers. Rehman too left the House in protest. When Sh Allaudin of Unification Bloc stood up on a point of order, opposition’s female legislators, especially Seemal Kamran, started chanting the word “turncoat”.

In response to this, parliamentary secretary Zulfiqar Dhillon along with Allaudin started addressing the women legislators with vulgar names, which was then followed by a show-throwing scene between treasury and opposition. After 15 minutes of uproar in the House, the Speaker ordered removal of non-parliamentary words from the proceedings and called the law minister and Ch Zaheer in his chamber to settle the matter. He also announced that he would suspend membership of the legislators who were involved in the non-parliamentary acts. On this, the opposition, including PPP and PML-Q members, boycotted the session and left the House. After a meeting with the law minister, the Speaker constituted a committee to resolve the issue, and as per sources, all the parties have agreed to abide by the committee’s decision.-Dailytimes