The Pakistan People’s Party-led opposition in the National Assembly on Thursday strongly protested the arrest of Sindh Assembly Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) a day earlier, forcing the chair to abruptly adjourn the sitting. The opposition members participated in the session while wearing black ribbons on arms. They also chanted slogans against the detention, demanding an immediate release of the Speaker. Addressing the House, PPP leader Khursheed Shah said only political leaders were being held accountable. He strongly condemned the arrest of Agha Siraj Durrani and asked, “Is this ‘Naya Pakistan’ in which respected political leaders are being apprehended in humiliating ways?” He said the PPP has always worked for the collective benefit of the nation. “It is a matter of shame that an elected Speaker has been arrested. No matter who occupies the seat, a Speaker deserves respect. How can they drag away someone without proper investigation? Where are they taking this country to? What do they want to prove by arresting someone like this?” he questioned. “We will protest at all levels. This is the first time in the country’s 70-year history that an elected Speaker has been arrested,” he said. “Mr Speaker! You should also be careful as it is Naya Pakistan and anything can happen in it,” he said while addressing NA Speaker Asad Qaisar. PPP-led opposition demands immediate release of Agha Siraj Durrani Hitting back to Khursheed Shah’s tirade, Federal Minister for Education Shafqat Mahmood asked why the PPP and PML-N did not amend NAB laws during their respective tenures. “Why didn’t the PPP amend NAB laws when it came up with the 18th Amendment? Neither the PPP nor PML-N changed the laws when they were in power,” he remarked. “If there were any flaws in NAB laws, then why in the last 10 years no steps were taken for their improvement. Both PPP and PML-N remained in power for 10 years while the incumbent NAB chairman was also appointed during the PML-N tenure while PPP leader Khurshid Shah as leader of the opposition was also consulted on his appointment,” he asked. “Every nation has an accountability process and no one can raise objection to it,” he said, pointing out that their senior minister in Punjab Aleem Khan has also been arrested by the NAB in an ongoing probe. “Why is the parliament being involved in the matter? NAB doesn’t take instructions from the prime minister,” he added. Former prime minister and PPP leader Raja Pervaiz Ashraf declared Durrani’s arrest ‘an insult’ to the parliament and questioned why a sitting speaker was dragged away in a humiliating manner and his house searched for hours by the NAB officials. “What joke is this, treating assembly members like some cattle,” he said. Addressing the speaker, Raja said the House should be informed which departments were above the law and also above this House. He said Durrani’s arrest was not a good sign for the democracy. When the Speaker allowed Federal Minister for Inter-Provincial Coordination Dr Fehmida Mirza to speak, the entire opposition protested and gathered in front of the Speaker’s dais. The Speaker warned them to not create disturbance otherwise he would be compelled to adjourn the sitting. However, the opposition members who were already protesting and raising slogans against Durrani’s arrest, didn’t let Mirza speak. Due to the strong protest by the opposition, the Speaker abruptly adjourned the sitting until 11am on Friday. Published in Daily Times, February 22nd 2019.