- Shah asks Nawaz to step down to ‘save democratic system’
- MQM lawmakers remain silent spectator, avoid sloganeering
It seems as if the Supreme Court verdict on Panama Papers case has provided a renewed energy to an otherwise divided opposition, as they on Friday literally made it impossible for National Assembly Acting Speaker Murtaza Javed Abbasi to run the parliament.
Though the Mutahidda Qaumi Movement (MQM-P) lawmakers did not take part in the sloganeering in the National Assembly, the other opposition lawmakers, led by opposition leader Syed Khursheed Shah, raised slogans, tore up the agenda copies and surrounded the chair, demanding speeches on the Panama judgment.
The House echoed with slogans of ‘Go-Nawaz-Go’ and others. They also tore off copies of agenda and the Question Hour, as some even kept throwing the copies in the air. The ‘weak’ treasury looked totally confused and helpless to tackle the opposition protest which was stronger than ever.
It was Shah, who while speaking on a point of order, criticised the prime minister for remaining absent from the House despite a landmark judgment by the apex court on Panama case. He said that the absence of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif from the parliament has proved the allegations against him and his family were correct.
“Since two senior most judges have disqualified the prime minister, Nawaz should step down to save the democratic system,” he remarked. Amid sloganeering from the opposition, he wondered how the prime minister could be investigated by his much junior subordinates a part of the joint investigation team (JIT).
He said that he (Nawaz) had lost moral authority to rule the country. Shah said that since Imran Khan was the main petitioner in the Panama case, he should be allowed to speak over the issue. He then gave floor to the PTI chairman who had come to the National Assembly after a long absence.
However, Abbasi refused to allow Imran to speak, asking the opposition leader to follow rules and procedures. He gave floor to Minister for Inter-Provincial Coordination Riaz Hussain Pirzada who urged the opposition to follow the rules and submit a resolution for suspension of the Question Hour so as a debate on Panama case could take place.
This made the already charged opposition lawmakers who constantly kept sloganeering seeking time for Imran to speak. Abbasi then gave floor to Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Sheikh Aftab who said Nawaz Sharif was the elected representative of the people and would not step down from his position.
“All opposition parties should honour the decision of the Supreme Court and avoid creating hurdles in the path of the probe,” he said, adding that the opposition’s protest was a reflection of their disappointment. These remarks made the opposition lawmakers furious who gathered around the podium and threw torn pieces of the copies of the agenda in the air.
The coalition lawmakers, comparatively in less in number as compared to the opposition, preferred to stay on their own seats and did not respond to sloganeering by the opposition. Though Abid Sher Ali, Abul Mannan and a few others who tried to raise counter slogans but failed to do so as their other colleagues did not join in.
Amid this chaotic situation, a group of the treasury benches remained a silent spectator like MQM who looked calm and neutral. In this messy situation, the deputy speaker finally warned the opposition lawmakers to behave or he would prorogue the session. Finally, Abbasi read out the prorogue declaration amid sloganeering.