ISLAMABAD:(APS)December 14, 2016-Chaos ruled the National Assembly (NA) on Wednesday with the return of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) to parliament as NA Speaker Ayaz Sadiq rejected the opposition’s privilege motions on Panamagate.
Footage of the NA showed incensed members of opposition ripping up copies of the session’s agenda and the privilege motions as both PML-N and opposition lawmakers yelled slogans accusing each others’ leaders of corruption.
The PTI and PPP submitted privilege motions in the NA claiming that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had misguided lawmakers in a speech regarding his assets delivered earlier this year.
The PPP in its privilege motion said the PM, through his lawyers, told the Supreme Court that his speech in the Parliament on May 16 was a “”political statement” and was not [meant] to be taken seriously. This implies that all his previous policy statements are also to be taken likewise.”
In a similarly privilege motion, the PTI said the PM had told the House that he had “documents to prove his case.” But his lawyers said no records were kept as business was conducted via “”parchis” (chits)”, it stated.
The NA speaker clarified his decision to reject the motions, saying the matter is subjudice.
Having failed to win a verdict from the Supreme Court against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif over the Panamagate case last week, PTI on Tuesday decided to end its boycott of the NA and return to parliament. The SC last week deferred the hearing of the case till the first week of January.
Pandemonium broke out in the PTI benches when the NA speaker opened the floor to the PML-N’s Saad Rafique on a point of order following PPP leader Khursheed Shah’s speech instead of allowing PTI leader Shah Mahmood Qureshi to speak.
Amid chants of ‘thief, thief’, Rafique lashed out at the members of opposition clustered before the speaker’s bench who were throwing papers in the air, and accused PTI lawmakers of ‘only wanting to fight’.
“The PTI is scheming against democracy,” he said. “PTI workers are hooligans, that’s all they do in politics… They are only attending the session so they can collect their salaries,” he claimed.
Talking to the media outside the parliament, he strongly criticised the opposition parties in general and PTI in particular.
“The parliament is a political space, hence each and every word uttered on the floor is political. In the court one gives a legal statement which requires detailed elaboration as well as proofs,” said the PML-N stalwart.
Leader of the Opposition in the NA Khursheed Shah, while addressing the ruling PML-N pointed out what he termed ‘contradictions’ in Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s speech in the house regarding his assets.
He alleged the PM’s counsel had stated in the Supreme Court during the ongoing Panamagate hearings that politicians deliver political speeches which should not be mistaken as legal statements.
“If you had come forward and apologised, the public would have forgiven you,” Shah said, apparently addressing the prime minister. “But at least come forward and admit to your wrongdoings,” he said.
During Shah’s speech, NA Speaker Ayaz Sadiq interrupted several times and directed the senior PPP leader to avoid speaking of matters that are subjudice.
In response, Shah, to loud applause, claimed that the parliament is superior to the judiciary as the house carries the mandate of 200 million people.
“It is irritating when we hear the incoming chief justice is the PML-N’s own man. Perhaps you [PML-N] do not say this, but the people do,” Shah claimed.