The third joint session of the Parliament began on Thursday in the presence of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
PML-N Senator Sajid Mir begins
Senator Sajid Mir opened the session with his address to the House.
He commended opposition leader Khurshid Shah and opposition parties for attempting to resolve the political deadlock while criticizing Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) leaders.
He objected over the language used by PAT chief Tahirul Qadri about Shah on Wednesday asking if such a language suit someone who claims to be a leader.
He said that Qadri was taking advantage of the simple mindedness of the people and their faith while Imran Khan is no politician but a bowler who gives bouncers and no-balls.
“Politics is not cricket,” he said.
He further said that Qadri and Imran should not think that we would allow them to do anything they want by force.
“We did not even accept the forced Shariah by Sufi Muhammad, why do Imran and Qadri think they will be allowed to do anything they please,” he said.
He asked if the both protesting leaders should be dealt with the way the Taliban were dealt.
He demanded the government to restore normalcy in the country, adding that civil government should now be allowed to function.
Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed’s stance
Mir’s speech was followed by an address by Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed .
He paid his respects to the Speaker Ayaz Sadiq for his generosity to let PTI MNAs enter the house and address the Parliamentarians.
He requested the speaker to not approve the resignations tendered by the PTI MNAs, terming them a part of the system.
He said that the youth makes a large majority of the population which is now well aware of its rights and politics but is impatient and angry as they want more than laptops.
“The youth are restless and upset. They are impatient, have expectations and deserve a better future,” he said.
He added that now Pakistan also has another power centre in the shape of a strong and free media which has been playing a strong, and sometimes, political role.
“For the first time in Pakistan, we have an independent judiciary which is not influenced by the GHQ”, he said.
He also praised the active role of the civil society, adding that the challenges faced by Pakistan can be dealt with only when all the power centres work together.
He cited examples of India, Turkey and Indonesia which are now ruled by leaders who came from humble backgrounds.
“Politics is not confined to some political families but all,” he said.
He said that Pakistan faces many challenges as ISIS is now seeking to target Afghanistan and Pakistan.
“ The ball is now in the government’s court.”
“ We need to change our Mughal mindset to the Mandela mindset. “We need to change our style of governance and not be divisive but inclusive,” he said.
He said that the decision to appoint Gen Raheel Sharif as the COAS was a wise decision, terming him not just an acting general but a thinking general. He added that the army is a subordinate of the government and should be dealt with in a professional manner.
Towards the end, the senator urged the Parliament to do more than holding debates and play its due role in the light of Quaid-e-Azam who led the nation to independence with only his credibility, leadership and people’s support.
ANP’s Haji Adeel backs PM
Awami National party (ANP) Leader Haji Adeel spoke next, he said that his party supports the PML-N government despite having reservations.
“We are with the PM for the sake of democracy…but we don’t see him or his authority,” he said.
“What kind of the government is this as terrorists outside the Parliament are checking our vehicles,” he questioned.
He said that the containers installed everywhere were causing trouble for citizens, urging the government to not punish them and instead hold the disruptive elements accountable.
He said that it was unfortunate that the parliamentarian have to come to the house through backdoors.
He said that PAT chief Dr. Qadri should provide the names of the 30,000 people he claims have been held by the government and he would personally appeal the government to release them.
He said that dynastic politics has caused damage and there is a need for change and a system a accountability to be introduced to hold those in military, politics and judiciary misusing their power.
Adeel said that at one point, Imran Khan was a hero and received support while working on the Shaukat Khanum Hospital .
He said that the issue between Khan and PM seems more personal than political.
We asked the PM to help the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in power issues regardless of who was ruling the province.
The ANP leader said that those doing politics on the container were no rebel as rebels are not only those who switch parties (in reference to Javed Hashmi) but those who do not leave the party but speak their minds.
PPP Senator Raza Rabbani speaks
PPP Senator Raza Rabbani opened his address with a request to the PM to direct the Punjab government to deal diligently with the situation caused due to heavy rainfall in Punjab, leading to 12 deaths.
Moving towards the current political situation, Rabbani said that he does not agree fully to the notion Parliamentarians expressed yesterday that the Parliament was victorious.
He said that yesterday was a just the first victory of a battle but the war was not over.
“If democratic forces think that it was the first and last attack on the Parliament, they are mistaken.”
“This is a war for power, for control of the state,” he said.
He said that for the first time all the democratic forces, lawyers and media were standing against anyone seeking to walk over the constitution, warning that certain elements will keep on seeking chance to break the unity showcased by the democratic forces.
He said, referring to PM, that if he and his cabinet alienate the Parliament and won’t come to the assembly and senate then such conspiracies will spring up.
“Only a united Parliament can fight off such attacks,” he said.
He said that if the situation had been handled politically from the beginning, the happenings outside would not have reached this point,
He said that the constitution has been safeguarding itself through some clauses that have hindered the attempts made by dark forces to attack the Parliament.
“ The government would have been sent packing had 58(2)(b) been in effect today but since it is not so, these forces have brought their puppets on to the streets,” he said.
He said that the election result was accepted despite rigging for the ‘sake of democracy.’
Addressing PTI, he said that first it wanted the scrutiny of four constituencies but then went on to call for the fall of the system,
“Even when Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was murdered judicially, we decide to remain within the system. Our victories were snatched away but we remained in the system. Benazir Bhutto was murdered in Rawalpindi but we said we would stay in the system. We never called for the fall of the system as this is politics,” he said.
Going on with the criticism on the PAT and PTI protests, Rabbani said that what was happening at the Red Zone was not a revolution where the privileged class was raising claims of being underprivileged.
“It’s a situation where the ‘haves’ say they are ‘have nots.’ Where are the labourers, the famers,” he asked.
Hitting out at Tahirul Qadri, the senator said that he had taken an oath in allegiance to the Queen of England and hence cannot even be a Parliamentarian.
“What revolution is he calling out for? The revolution has artists, students and teachers as its forerunners,” he said.
He said that on Wednesday, Qadri turned his cannons towards PPP, in reference to Qadri’s criticism of PPP leader Khursheed Shah whom he alleged looks over the terrorists in Sindh.
He said that his party was used to such attacks but Qadri attacked Bhutto Shaheeh who was the architect of the Constitution of Pakistan.
“They should know PPP’s jiyalas know how to deal with those who attack their leaders,” he said.
He said that the Parliamentarian were ready to lay down their lives to protect the Parliament.
“In this battle we are not ready for the compromise, this war is for the survival of Pakistan.”
“The federation of Pakistan will be under threat if dictatorship is imposed. Its in no way acceptable to us,” he said.
Taking a turn to urge to Parliamentarians for soul-searching, the senator said that had the political class been able to deliver, the situation would have been different.
“ If we had been delivering as we should, each citizen of Pakistan would have actively rejected the attack on Parliament but now they don’t seem concerned,” he said.
Criticising government’s moves to call army troops to the capital and asking the COAS to mediate in the political crisis, Rabbani said that the political authority had been compromised upon by meetings with the army chief at GHQ and invoking article 245 in Islamabad.
“When we impose Article 245, we concede political space; when we ask for facilitation, we concede political space.”
“ Unfortunately, today the balance of power does not rest in Islamabad but in Rawalpindi,” he said.
He praised the government’s move to agree with five points of the protesting parties.
He said that the Parliament would be the guarantor of the commission that will be investigating the elections and would ensure that its findings are follow through and action is taken against those involved in rigging.
Ahsan Iqbal talks for the government
Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal addressed the joint session.
He mocked PTI and PAT saying that the new ‘inqilab’ could be called a ‘closed container inqilabi where the two leaders are stuck inside the containers.
“Pakistan is being made a hostage of container revolution. The world has seen velvet and orange revolution and Pakistan is having a container revolution,” he said.
He said that the current situation has made a mockery of Pakistan, adding that the image of the Parliament has been tainted.
“The actions of the protestors have made us comparable to Libya, Kenya and Ukraine,” he said.
He condemned PAT chief Dr. Qadri’s remarks against Khursheed Shah and termed humiliating the opposition leader tatamount to disrespecting the Parliament.
He said the enemies of Pakistan had not spent enough resources to destroy us as much as we have destroyed ourselves.
He said that the international world has questioned Pakistan of how it is letting citizens storming its offices and taking over the system.
He commended the opposition parties for their role.
He claimed that the youth and democratic forces have refused the protesting parties as they realize that Pakistan’s future lies with political stability and would choose to oust a government through vote.
Iqbal hit out at Khan saying that his language was not that of someone who went to Oxford and condemned the use of religious references for the protest as shameful.
He went further, urging that it was the country’s right to be allowed to be politically stable for five years with the government which has earned the tenure.
He said the rule of law and constitutionalism were the paths through which the country could progress.
He said that Khan and Qadri act as if they are the only clean ones while everyone else is corrupt.
“Why are you trying to break our confidence and our faith in ourselves?,” he asked.
He said that even if Khan and Qadri sit outside the Parliament for 500 years, they will not be able to have an effect on the government and on democracy.
The PML-N leader further said that elections all over the world are claimed to have been suffered rigging but there are election tribunals that are made to deal with these issues.
He said that in May 2013 elections, the chief election commissioner’s appointment was agreed upon by all political forces.
“Imran praised the appoint of Fakhruddin Ebrahim as chief election commissioner. The caretaker government was agreed upon by the government and the opposition at the time,” he said.
He said that if Imran Khan could prove that the residing officers were involved in election rigging then the government would accept his claims.
He said that it was the job of the election tribunal to look in to the four constituencies PTI claimed to have been rigged.
Turning his focus towards PTI’s internal elections, the minister said that in PTI’s fact-finding report on its failure to form a government, the party admits of giving tickets to undeserving people, how could Imran Khan question others on merit and corruption.
“ If you can’t keep a check on corruption within your own party, and handed tickets in exchange for money and favours, how can you lecture others on corruption,” he said.
He went on to add that the report further stated that the PTI campaign did not represent the people’s demands while the attitude of the leadership and chairman’s failure to recognize significant PTI workers was among other factors that led to the failure of PTI in the elections.
“How is that our fault,” he asked.
He said that PTI’s 34 members want to dictate the whole Parliament.
Iqbal further said that it was PTI’s president who had claimed that the protest was carried out on a script and Imran Khan should have resigned after such an allegation from his party president.
I have been upset over what happened in Lahore…but the chain of events is problematic,” says the minister.
He said that the government had accepted that five out of six demands of PTI while the sixth was just unreasonable and nonnegotiable.
He said that on Saturday the PTI had leaders had assure us that they would not march towards the PM house, adding that they had made the same assurance regarding the Red Zone.
“They kept on breaking their promises,” he said.
Iqbal also criticized the media for coverage of the protests.
“No leader has been given a coverage to the likes of that received by these two on prime time every day.”
“Even when Imran and Qadri sneeze, the media is ready to cover that”, he said.
He said that the PM has offered to form a commission to look into PTI’s demands and asses them adding that if they don’t trust the judiciary of the country then may be UN should be called.
The federal minister announced tha the PM has directed to build a cancer hospital in Islamabad and he requests Imran Khan to wrap up his protests and do something positive for this nation.