ISLAMABAD: Oppositions legislators in Lower House of parliament on Thursday strongly reacted and staged a walkout after Federal Minister for Water and Power Khawaja Asif accused PTI leader Ayesha Gulalai of pilfering electricity.
Targeting the PTI woman lawmaker, who had led a protest against the Peshawar Electric Supply Company (PESCO) a day earlier, the minister remarked that power pilferers were protesting load shedding. On a point of order, Khawaja Asif regretted the procession led by a woman MNA outside the PESCO office in Peshawar and pointed out that there was 89 percent power pilferage in the feeder where the MNA resides.
“Does asking for your rights amount to thievery?” Gulalai hit back. “Money is taken from the country’s people in every budget for electricity and yet you continue to remain unable to provide electricity,” she said.
PTI’s chief whip Shireen Mazari, in return, called Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif a thief, prompting slogans against the government.
Speaking on the occasion, Opposition Leader Khurshid Shah said there was a lot of electricity theft happening in Lahore as well. “Why does nobody see that?” The opposition leader said that electricity theft prevailed all over the country. “Should we cut off everyone’s supply?” he asked, adding, “If we call each other thieves, we do not need external enemies.” He said the matter can be resolved if Kh Asif takes his comments back.
National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq expunged Kh Asif’s remarks and warned Mazari against making objectionable comments against other members of the House.
Leaders of the PPP and Jamaat-i-Islami then joined PTI in walking out of the assembly in protest.
Meanwhile, Minister for States and Frontier Regions Abdul Qadir Baloch told the House that the government was committed to FATA reforms. He rejected the news about the FATA reforms having been shelved due to an unexpected change of mind in the ranks of both treasury and the opposition.
It has also been reported that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has directed his party to postpone FATA reforms bills till his return to the country, he said, and clarified that PM didn’t issue any directive in this connection and that there was no pressure of any sort on him over the issue. He said FATA reforms package comprising 36 points was formulated in consultation with all the stakeholders.
The FATA reforms bill approval was postponed in the NA which led to an uproar by the opposition in the House. The House plunged into chaos as chief of Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) Mehmood Khan Achakzai declared FATA an independent area.
Speaking at floor of the House, Achakzai said that he only follows the constitution of Pakistan. “Those who don’t follow the constitution are traitors. Parliament will be responsible of consequences if decisions are imposed against the will of the people of FATA,” he warned.
Opposition Leader Khursheed Shah strongly condemned the government while accusing it of halting the FATA reforms bill through its allies.
Members of parliament from FATA have reportedly contacted Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leadership over the reforms bill. They have expressed desire to meet party co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari to inform him about their reservations. The members have sought PPP’s assistance in raising the issue in parliament with full force. Sources say that a meeting is being arranged between Zardari and FATA members.
The National Assembly, meanwhile, adopted an adjournment motion for discussion on recent incidents of unprovoked firing by Afghan forces on Pakistani villages in Chaman. The motion was moved by Syed Naveed Qamar and others.
Minister of State for Education Balighur Rehman laid before the House ‘The National Skill University Islamabad Bill, 2017’.
The House also passed ‘The Alternate Dispute Resolution Bill, 2017’. The bill was moved by Law Minister Zahid Hamid. The minister said it was a historic bill aimed at ensuring speedy justice. He said it would help reduce backlog of cases in the lower judiciary.
The House also passed ‘The Alternate Dispute Resolution Bill, 2017’, ‘The National Counter Terrorism Authority (Amendment) Bill, 2017’, ‘The Land Acquisition (Amendment) Bill, 2016’, ‘The Witness Protection, Security and Benefit Bill, 2016’, ‘The Provincial Motor Vehicle (Amendment) Bill, 2015’ and ‘The Representation of the Peoples (Amendment) Bill, 2017’.
The House has now been prorogued.