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Opposition slams cancellation of NA committee meetings

By Amir Wasim 2019-07-10
ISLAMABAD: Major opposition parties on Tuesday lashed out at National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser over his order to suddenly cancel all st anding committee meetings in the name of austerity and termed it `illegal` and another `attack` on the parliament.

Commenting on the order that the speaker had issued late Monday night, the opposition parties questioned the logic behind the socalled austerity measure that the committees would meet only when the National Assembly would be in session.

As a result of the order of the speal(er, who is currently on an official tour to the UK, not only the meetings of four committees scheduled for Tuesday were cancelled, but over three dozen meetings of the committees scheduled to be held later this month have also been cancelled.

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, who was scheduled to head the National Assembly`s Functional Committee on Human Rights on Tuesday, held an emergency news conference at Zardari House to `condemn` the speaker`s act.Mr Bhutto-Zardari said: `This is an attack on the parliament from within.

He said the speaker had in fact no powers to issue such an order as it was prerogative of thechairmen of the standing committees to convene their meetings whenever and wherever they wanted to.

The speaker, who himself was on an officialtour [to the UK], had issued the order at the eleventh hour in the name of austerity at a time when the committee members had already arrived in Islamabad to attend the meetings, he said. `At the time when this decision is announced both the speaker and the deputy speaker are out ofthe country on ofhcial visits,` the PPP chairman remarked.

He alleged that the decision had been made only to prevent the issuance of production orders of the opposition lawmakers, including his father Asif Ali Zardari, to attend the meetings.

`The speaker is making the House dysfunctional by stopping the standing committees from functioning in the name of austerity,` he said, adding that the standing committees set groundwork for the assembly for its future session.

`How will it be possible to hold meetings of 35 standing committees in 10 rooms available for the purpose?` he asked, while observing that `the speaker seems totally ignorant of the importance of these standing committees`.

Mr Bhutto-Zardari said his committee was to take up important legislations and discuss important issues in the Tuesday`s meeting.

`The parliament is incomplete without functioning of the committees. They are brains of the parliament,` he said.

`The PTPs fascist government wants that parliament is made redundant,` he allegedand asked the speaker to immediately withdraw the order.

The PPP chairman said the PTI government was pushing democratic elements to take extreme steps, forcing the country towards anarchy.

He said interviews of Ihsanullah Ihsan, Kalbhoshan Jadev, Indian pilot, and `traitor` retired Gen Pervez Musharraf could be aired, but the interviews of the youth from Waziristan and former president Asif Zardari could not be aired.

`This is because press is not free today and facing censorship. Three channels have been taken off air, which is highly condemnable.

Now several journalists are not able to use Twitter because their accounts can be closed, he said.

The PPP chairman declared that freedom was `our basic right and we will fight for these rights till the end`.

About the speal(er`s order, PML-N vice president Shahid Khagan Abbasi during a news conference criticised the move and sarcastically advised the speaker to lock the assembly.

The former prime minister alleged that the speaker was not interested to see the assembly functioning.

PML-N general secretary Ahsan Iqbal alleged that the speaker had taken the decision on the dictation of Prime Minister Imran Khan.