Defense minister says joint committee will be formed to ensure smooth working of Parliament
The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf-led government on Thursday announced that lawmakers of the opposition and treasury benches had agreed to cooperate and ensure the resumption of normal operations in the National Assembly.
“The decision has been taken to run assemblies smoothly and respect each other,” Defense Minister Pervez Khattak told media in Islamabad alongside Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry. “The members have to use appropriate language, cursing should be refrained from, efforts should be made to avoid a ruckus and no one should rise from their seats so there is no fighting or discord,” he said, adding that a “consensus” had been achieved following a meeting between representatives of opposition parties and the government. “It is the responsibility of both the opposition and the government to maintain order in the House,” he said. “We must respect each other,” he added.
He said the proposal devised by the opposition and the government would be discussed further by Speaker Asad Qaiser. To a question, he said that it had recommended that a committee should be formed to reduce enmity between the opposition and the government. In addition, he said, measures were being proposed to grant more powers to the National Assembly speaker to ensure that he were able to effectively control any disruptive environment in future.
“I am hopeful that we had a very good meeting and the effort will be for the assembly to run smoothly today. The leader of the opposition speaks and people from our side speak as well so the message should be sent that we parliamentarians work for the country’s betterment and condemn whatever happened,” Khattak stressed.
Chaudhry clarified that Khattak, Planning Minister Asad Umar, Minister of State Ali Muhammad Khan, Amir Dogar and himself had represented the government during talks with the opposition. PMLN’s Rana Sanaullah, Ayaz Sadiq and Rana Tanveer; and PPP’s Raja Pervaiz Ashraf and Shazia Murree had represented the opposition, he added. He said the lawmakers had discussed all relevant issues and agreed that the rowdiness witnessed in the NA in recent days was a source of embarrassment and had damaged the repute of Parliament in the eyes of the public.
The press conference followed three days of increasingly disruptive NA proceedings that saw the treasury and opposition benches facing off against each other during the ongoing budget session. What started with sloganeering and jeers devolved into lawmakers throwing copies of the budget at each other, resulting in one MNA being injured. Speaker Asad Qaiser on Wednesday barred seven MNAs—three from the PTI, three from the PMLN and one from the PPP—from attending parliamentary proceedings. He also adjourned proceedings on Wednesday evening after the treasury and opposition continued arguing, declaring that he would not resume until the two sides had achieved an “understanding.”