NA adjourned after witnessing ‘fireworks’ over Senate ballot bill

Qureshi targets opposition for not allowing debate: Raja Pervaiz  terms bill attempt to deceive people

By: News Desk
Published: 03:48 PM, 4 Feb, 2021
NA adjourned after witnessing ‘fireworks’ over Senate ballot bill
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The National Assembly resumed its session on Thursday in the same spirit where the House left it on Wednesday evening because there was a rumpus on the floor as the Opposition lawmakers chanted slogans in front of the speaker’s dais, blew whistles and raised voices, reported 24NewsHD TV channel.

The opposition members raised slogans like “Saaray Lotay, Haaye Niazi”, “Roti, Mehangayi, Haaye Niazi” and “Unemployment, Haaye Niazi” in front of the speaker’s dais. The members were also carrying placards inscribed with anti-government slogans. Several opposition legislators were also carrying placards with "chor" (thief) written on them while some had slogans urging the speaker to allow them to speak.

The Opposition turned hostile on Wednesday when the government tabled the 26th Constitutional Amendment Bill seeking Senate elections through open ballot.

Taking the floor amid Opposition’s cries of foul play, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said that Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) was accustomed to playing on both sides of the wicket. 

Qureshi called PPP a party of ‘hypocrites’. “If they want to ‘bulldoze’ the House through their noisy protests, we are ready to take them on,” he said emphatically.

He said today again he asked the opposition to talk and let us talk. “If you want to say something, and are willing to listen to us, then we are ready for the debate,” he offered.

He said the reason why the opposition parties were against the constitutional amendment for the show of hands in Senate elections was that they did not want transparency. “They want the sale of votes to continue,” he alleged.

The foreign minister said while on one hand the opposition parties talked about giving respect to the parliament, on the other hand they raised hue and cry to disrupt parliamentary proceedings.

Qureshi reminded the opposition of the Charter of Democracy in which there was a provision about voting through the show of hands.

Qureshi strongly criticised the opposition for not allowing discussion on the 26th constitutional amendment bill seeking open balloting in the Senate elections to progress forward.

Marred by loud sloganeering and beating of desks, Qureshi blasted the opposition for disrespecting the sanctity of the Parliament. He denounced the opposition's behaviour and warned that the government has shown "a lot of patience and respect" but "if you think we will let you bulldoze it (the bill), that will not happen".

The minister warned "If they don't want to listen then a one-sided debate cannot take place."

He said Prime Minister Imran Khan had promised the introduction of reforms and the government wanted to move forward with transparent reforms, adding this was the reason the government had moved a bill for amendments in Articles 59, 63 and 226 of the Constitution.

Qureshi said the bill was brought to uncover the motives of candidates who came to the Senate on the back of horse-trading and had no vision or support from any political party.

He questioned how can members of the Senate who "can be bought and sold" be relied upon to defend the nation's interests.

Raja Pervaiz Ashraf

Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leader and former prime minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf said history would bear testimony to the fact that opposition was not allowed to speak on the constitutional amendment proposed by the government for holding Senate elections through the show of hands.

Speaking in the National Assembly, he said yesterday he was barred from speaking on the proposed amendment several times. “You are not exposing us. In fact, you are being exposed,” he said while addressing the treasury benches.

The PPP leader said increase in electricity tariffs and prices of essential items meant that the country’s prime minister was ‘corrupt’ since this what Prime Minister Imran Khan used to say when he was in the opposition. “When I was the country’s PM, each unit of electricity cost Rs4, which has now soared to Rs28,” he said, and reiterated this meant that the prime minister was ‘corrupt’.

Ashraf accused the PTI government of ruining the country. He said that tabling of the constitutional amendment bill showed government’s bad intentions. “It is an attempt to deceive people just like PTI’s promises of building five million homes and providing 10 million jobs to the people after coming to power,” he said, and asked the government to have mercy on the country.

He suggested to the government to form committee on the bill so that reservations of all and sundry could be addressed.

He asked Prime Minister Imran Khan to rein in members of his party. “When your party members shout abuses at us, we shout abuse at you in return Mr. prime minister,” he said, and reminded the prime minister of his statements in which he had expressed his commitment to sanctity of the parliament.

In a reference to new faces in the PTI, Ashraf told the PM that these very ‘turncoats’ would leave you one day.

PPP leader warned the government that it would find no place to hide once the Pakistan Democratic Movement leaders and workers marched on Islamabad.

Earlier, MNA Abdul Qadir Patel branded Federal Power Minister Omar Ayub a lota (turncoat) which spun the most.

Later, the speaker adjourned the National Assembly session indefinitely.