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  • Oct 16th, 2004
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As mark of a protest against the passage of pro-uniform bill, Pakistan Awami Tehreek chief Allama Tahirul Qadri on Friday resigned from the National Assembly, leaving the House in utter astonishment. On its part, the treasury appeared like a disjoined unit again, as they failed to ensure quorum on the second consecutive day.

They received a setback when Tahirul Qadri, a government ally, announced his resignation during his appearance in the House after a gap of several months.

To add to treasury's embarrassment, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Dr Sher Afgan Niazi faced his own colleagues' opposition over his adjournment motion against the opposition.

Opposition members, chanting 'Go Musharraf Go', and 'Go Speaker Go', besieged the Speaker's dais for some time and then walked out of the House.

After an hour's suspension of the business due to quorum problem, the lawmaker from Jhang took the floor and said, what happened yesterday (Thursday) was the ugliest example in the world's parliamentary history.

"It will be now below my dignity to sit in this House after the passage of the dual-office bill. Therefore, I resign as its member," the visibly disgusted MNA remarked, as the House silently listened to him.

He said the supremacy of the House stood eroded, adding: "We have slaughtered the Parliament with our own hands. Democracy has been pushed into pitched darkness."

The MNA added he would like to step down as a member rather than wearing 'chains of slavery of the House'.

Defending his earlier decision to side with President Musharraf, Qadri said it was based on President Musharraf's loud and clear commitment to elimination of corruption, a free judiciary and a transparent democratic dispensation.

Some opposition members rushed to the angry MNA. They tried to persuade him not to resign and tried to snatch the copy of resignation from him. However, he remained adamant over his resignation decision.

After the opposition walkout, some PPPP, MMA and PML (N) leaders again, through arguments, tried to convince Qadri not to resign, as this will ultimately benefit the government.

"We can draw up a collective strategy. Resigning this way may start a chain reaction, enabling the government to muster two-third majority by winning by-elections," they contended.

But again, the PAT leader showed no sign of tracking back from his earlier decision. Surprisingly, hardly any member from the treasury consoled Qadri.

The government found itself in a catch-22 position when, without consulting the leadership or his colleagues, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Sher Afgan Niazi moved a privilege motion against some of the opposition lawmakers.

His target in the motion were all of the opposition, who staged 'gherao' of the Speaker's dais a day earlier. To his shock, no one in the treasury was ready to back him on the initiative.

The shaky strength of the ruling coalition was also exposed on Friday's session. Several treasury members opposed the motion, as the opposition had already walked out of the House.

Former prime minister Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali opposed the motion, saying it would be improper to take up the issue relating to the opposition in their absence.

Secondly, he asked, why the motion was being tabled now? The opposition has been staging 'gherao' of the Speaker's dais in the past as well, he observed.

The former premier proposed that the matter be settled amicably through talks in the Speaker's chamber.

"Please don't try to complicate things," quipped Jamali backed by loud desk thumping by the treasury members.

Minority MNA M.P. Bhandara, who has been off and on reminding the Speaker to run the House in accordance with the rules, not only backed Jamali, but also advised the Speaker to speak less.

Several other members, including Malik Allah Yar Khan, Kashmala Tariq, Riaz Hussain Pirzada and Zafar Iqbal Warraiach also gave their arguments in favour of settling the issue through talks.

They were of the view that without listening to the point of views of the opposition, it would not be proper to refer the motion to the committee.

However, rejecting their viewpoints, Deputy Speaker Sardar Mohammad Yaqoob referred the motion to the House standing committee on privileges.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2004

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