Hooliganism was the order of the day in the National Assembly as scuffles broke out between angry and furious lawmakers of ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) with punches and abuses during the Lower House proceedings on Thursday.
Some experts termed the wrangling the worst incident in the parliamentary history after a similar scuffle broke out between lawmakers in 1958. A complete breakdown of parliamentary norms and tradition was witnessed when the ruling party lawmakers got physical with the PTI members.
Five members of the opposition parties had sought permission from National Assembly Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq to submit a privilege motion against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for “lying” to the Lower House of the Parliament on Panamagate controversy.
The incident triggered when PTI’s deputy parliamentary leader Shah Mahmood Qureshi sought permission from the Chair to submit a privilege motion against PM’s speech made on Panamagate in the House. When the permission was not allowed, the PTI lawmakers started to raise slogans of “Chor Hai Chor Hai Hamara PM Chor Hai”.
During the sloganeering, Federal Ministers Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Tariq Fazal Chaudhry along with other PML-N members went to Shah Mahmood Qureshi where an argument took place. PTI MNAs alleged that Abbasi had passed derogatory remarks against their party Chief Imran Khan. Meanwhile, Mian Abdul Mannan of PML-N allegedly abused the PTI lawmakers.
The PTI leaders alleged that Mannan also made sexist gesturing towards a PTI female lawmaker which resulted into physical brawl. PTI MNA Shehryar Khan Afridi entered into a scuffle with Petroleum Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi. This made PML-N lawmakers pushed Afridi back which led other opposition lawmakers including Jamshaid Dasti, Amjad Khan, Tariq Bashir Cheema and others to jump in.
Speaker summoned the sergeant at arms who provided security to the speaker and encircled his chair. The ruckus continued for almost ten minutes or so and soon parliamentarians from other parties came to defuse the situation.
Later, the united opposition staged a boycott of the House proceedings in a protest for disallowing the opposition an opportunity to submit an adjournment motion against the prime minister. The NA speaker later adjourned the House for 15 minutes.
Earlier, Opposition leader Syed Khurshid Shah made a brief speech, stating that the prime minister had made a misstatement before the House. Later, Shah sought permission for leaving for Karachi where his family had to leave for abroad.
Later, while talking to the media outside the parliament, Qureshi said he had requested the speaker to give two minutes to each of the five movers of the motion and then the government could give its viewpoint as per parliamentary tradition.
“The prime minister had given his statement on the floor of the parliament, but his lawyers deviated from it,” said Qureshi. He added that the behaviour of the government benches was not fit for lawmakers.
He said that the lawmakers of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q), Awami Muslim League (AML) and Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) had stood by the PTI and the opposition stood united. “We will move a privilege motion. The government must ponder its attitude which is un-parliamentary by all standards,” he added.
Tariq Cheema said that the opposition would not allow proceedings in National Assembly until opposition’s five movers are allowed to speak.