ISLAMABAD: PML-N senior leader and former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Tuesday walked out of the National Assembly after assailing Speaker Asad Qaiser for not the issuing production orders of his fellow party leader Rana Sanaullah.
Addressing the lower house, he claimed that he had been attending the sitting not because of the speaker’s production orders but because of the court’s ruling. “I will not beg you for a production order and I am going back,” he said before leaving the house in protest.
Speaker Qaiser interrupted, saying he had not received any court verdict and that Abbasi was attending the sitting because of him.
Abbasi disclosed that he had written three letters to the speaker seeking the issuance of production orders of all the jailed opposition members. “I will place your reply in the NA library for record which you had sent through a section officer telling me that only you have the powers to issue production orders,” he said while addressing the speaker.
“You have asked me to go to the court. I have great respect for the chair even if you have no respect.
“I have seen speakers like Fakhar Imam, Mairaj Khalid and Yousuf Raza Gillani who made no compromises on principles and their powers. If you have pressure from somewhere please say it.”
Abbasi noted that five members of the NA are currently in detention without conviction.
“It is your duty to issue production orders of each and every member without discrimination at the start of each session,” he told the speaker. “Denying production orders means negation of people’s rights.
“My production order carries the date of December 4 but I have been brought here today. Do you have the courage to take notice of the non-implementation of your orders?”
The PML-N leader asked the speaker whether he had read the court decision in the case against Deputy Speaker Qasim Khan Suri which he said states that the people of a constituency “could not be denied their right of representation in the assembly”.
“Issue the production order of Rana Sanaullah and I am going,” Abbasi said and proceeded to walk out.
Federal Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar defended the speaker and praised him for running the house strictly in accordance with the rules.
“If you need any support from the government, we will provide you,” he told Qaiser, accusing the opposition of having “double standards”.
“Sometimes they quote rules and sometimes they refer to the traditions, whichever suits them. They should decide once for all whether the house should be run under the rules or by following traditions,” he said of the opposition.
‘Tomorrow it could be you’
PML-N’s Khawaja Saad Rafique while addressing the house said he had been attending the sessions for the past one year on the basis of production orders.
“I know there are people in the ruling party like Pervez Khattak and Amir Dogar and even you who have always supported our demand for production orders,” he told the speaker.
“We also know those who always oppose the issuance of production orders. We know from where hurdles are created. I don’t want to name the person as it will create more tensions.”
Rafique said it is the centre and not the Punjab government which he alleged creates hurdles in the way of the issuance of production orders. “We have political differences with [Punjab Assembly Speaker] Chaudhry Pervez Elahi, but he has always issued production orders of jailed MPAs,” he said.
In a remark directed at the treasury benches, he said: “Today we are facing this difficult time and tomorrow you can also face a similar situation. Please issue the production order of Rana Sanaullah.”
Bill on student unions referred to committee
Earlier, the NA witnessed a debate on the issue of restoration of student unions in the country. The debate started after PML-N MNA Kesoo Mal introduced a private member’s bill seeking the lifting of ban on student unions.
Initially, some of the treasury members and ministers opposed the bill, saying that the government has already constituted a committee on the issue and Prime Minister Imran Khan is in favour of students politics. Later, however, a number of ministers supported the bill and asked the chair to refer it to the concerned committee.
PPP’s Abdul Qadir Patel clarified that the bill would only be applicable on student unions in Islamabad since higher education was devolved to the provinces under the 18th Amendment.
The bill was subsequently referred to the NA education committee for further deliberations after members from across the divide supported it.