ISLAMABAD: Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly, Shehbaz Sharif, on Wednesday slammed Speaker Asad Qaiser for not allowing him and other opposition leaders to speak during the joint session of the parliament.
A joint sitting of parliament, earlier today, passed amendments in three bills crucial to the fulfilment of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) requirements.
The opposition staged a walkout in protest after most of their proposed amendments to the bills were rejected and they were not allowed to speak.
“Asad Qaiser did not allow a debate to take place on our proposed amendments [to the bills],” said Shehbaz, flanked by PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and other opposition parliamentarians.
Shehbaz said that “genuine amendments” to the bills were not entertained, adding that he would register a strong protest against the speaker of the national assembly for not letting him speak.
“I even went to where the speaker sits with his staff and requested him to let me speak. Neither did he respond to me nor did he allow me to speak, which I think is a very unparliamentary attitude,” he said.
The former Punjab chief minister said it was a “Black Day” in the history of the parliament owing to the way the opposition was treated, adding that the opposition will decide mutually on what action to take against the speaker.
Dispelling the impression that the opposition parties wanted a National Reconciliation Order (NRO), Shehbaz said that leaders such as Rana Sanaullah, former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and PPP’s Khursheed Shah were already being targeted by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and were fighting the cases bravely.
Not speaker’s right to stop leader of the opposition from speaking, says Bilawal
Addressing the press conference after Shehbaz, Bilawal criticised the speaker as well for not allowing the leader of the opposition in the national assembly to speak.
“It is not the speaker’s right to stop the leader of the opposition from speaking in parliament,” he said. “The leader of the opposition or the leader of the house can speak whenever they want to.”
Bilawal said that senior opposition leaders, who had also been lawmakers in the parliaments during the Musharraf and Zia ul Haq eras, said they had never seen such non-democratic practices take place before.
“After the Islamabad High Court’s decision, legislation cannot be presented by an advisor,” he said, regretting that the speaker was not “ready to listen to this argument”.
Referring to the government’s amendments to the Anti-Money Laundering Bill, the PPP chairman said that now, police did not need a warrant to arrest anyone.
Bilawal said that the opposition was already bearing the brunt of the NAB’s coercive tactics, adding that these new amendments would have an adverse impact on the country’s business community and as a result, on the economy.
3 FATF-related bills passed in joint parliament session, opposition stage walkout
The controversy began after today’s joint sitting of the parliament during which amendments in three bills crucial to the fulfillment of the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) requirements were passed.
PM Imran also attended the session summoned by President Arif Alvi and chaired by Speaker Asad Qaiser.
The opposition staged a walk out in protest after most of their proposed amendments to the bills were rejected and they were not allowed to speak.
The three bills that were passed with amendments were the Islamabad Capital Territory Waqf Properties Bill, 2020, Anti-Money Laundering (Second Amendment) Bill and the Anti-Terrorism Act (amendment) Bill, 2020.
According to Radio Pakistan, the Islamabad Capital Territory Waqf Properties Bill is aimed at proper management, supervision, and administration of Waqf properties in the territorial limits of Islamabad Capital Territory.
The Anti-Money Laundering (Second Amendment) Bill, 2020 is “aimed at streamlining the existing anti money laundering law in line with international standards prescribed by FATF”, said the publication.