The government on Tuesday presented a resolution in the National Assembly seeking a debate on expulsion of French Ambassador over publication of blasphemous caricatures by a French magazine in September last year. As the session began, PTI lawmaker Amjad Ali Khan presented the resolution which calls for protection of the sanctity of Holy Prophet (PBUH). However, before a vote could take place on the resolution, Speaker Asad Qaiser, who chaired the session, announced the formation of a special committee to discuss the matter and asked the government and the opposition to engage with each other to develop a consensus on the issue. The resolution states that blasphemous sketches were published by a French magazine, and then the French president’s remarks hurt the sentiments of hundreds of millions of Muslims in the name of freedom of expression. “The House condemns the publication of insulting sketches by the controversial French magazine Charlie Hebdo and Muslims around the world had also expressed outrage at the publication of the sketches,” the resolution said, and asked for a debate over the issue of deporting the French ambassador. The resolution proposed to provide spaces in different parts of the country for protests on religious issues, adding that instead of blocking roads, specific places for protests should be identified. It demanded that the state should decide matters of international relations and no person, group or party can exert unnecessary illegal pressure in this regard. “All Muslim countries should be consulted on the issue and all European countries in general and France, in particular, should be made aware of the seriousness of the issue,” it added. All political parties participated in the session except Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), which deliberately boycotted the session in order to not become part of the process to pass a resolution for the expulsion of French ambassador. Amjad Ali Khan also requested the formation of a special parliamentary committee to discuss the French envoy’s expulsion. Following the MNA’s request, Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan presented a separate resolution for the formation of the committee. The resolution, after a voice vote, was declared by NA Speaker Asad Qaiser as approved by the parliament, amid loud chants of objection by the opposition. During the debate, PML-N stalwart and former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi regretted that the government called an emergency session of the NA and did not speak to the opposition about its intention to do so. He requested that the opposition be given an hour so they can review the resolution. “You have presented the resolution. We will debate and include the additional provisions it should have and put them before you, so that the House passes an agreed upon resolution,” he suggested, and maintained that the whole House should be considered the committee to debate the French envoy’s expulsion. “There is no need for a special committee,” he said, adding, “It should be a committee of the whole House.” Speaker interrupted Abbasi’s speech while asking that he have to give the floor to the religious minister. Perhaps it annoyed Abbasi and he left his seat, went to the speaker’s roaster and started lashing at him in a loud voice. He addressed the speaker saying, “You are making it controversial. Have you no shame?” This was followed by an exchange of heated remarks by both speaker and Abbasi. “Hold your tongue,” said the speaker in response, adding that you always speak such things and behave in such a manner. Abbasi added, “I will take off my shoe and hit you.” “I too will do such a thing then. Please stay within your limits,” the speaker said to Abbasi, asking him to return to his seat. Ahsan Iqbal of PML-N objected to the resolution being presented by a private member and over the prime minister’s absence from parliament. “All members of the parliament know that a private member resolution is non-official business,” he said. “Where is the prime minister?” he asked. “We are debating such an important matter and the prime minister is busy with something else,” he said, and demanded that Minister for Interior Sheikh Rasheed or Minister for Religious Affairs Noor-ul-Haq Qadri present the resolution to make it official business of the parliament. Minister for Religious Affairs Noor-ul-Haq Qadri said there is a ‘history behind the resolution’. He said the banned TLP which had asked the government to table the resolution in parliament ‘are citizens of Pakistan’. He said that many religious parties had indicated their support for the banned outfit. Later, the session was adjourned by Speaker Asad Qaiser without any major inroads made and will resume on Friday, April 23, at 11am.