Rumpus in parliament as Pakistani lawmakers hurl budget copies at each other - GulfToday

Rumpus in parliament as Pakistani lawmakers hurl budget copies at each other


Shah Mehmood Qureshi speaks during the NA session in Islamabad on Tuesday. Twitter photo

Gulf Today Report

Pakistan’s National Assembly (NA) witnessed a rumpus on Tuesday as lawmakers from the treasury and opposition benches nearly came to blows and hurled budget copies at each other.

The mayhem began as opposition leader Shahbaz Sharif attempted to speak, for a second day, during the general debate on federal budget 2021-22.

Videos widely shared on social media showed Pakistan Tahrik-e-Insaf’s (PTI) Ali Nawaz Awan shouting expletives at a member of the opposition and tossing a book at his rival, who hurled it back at him.

The situation turned tense again when Awan and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) Rohail Asghar and other leaders had a heated exchange as Shahbaz spoke.

Speaker Asad Qaiser kept interrupting Shahbaz, requesting lawmakers on the treasury benches to refrain from shouting while the leader of the opposition spoke. However, no one listened and the opposition leader continued, wearing headphones to drown out the noise.

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"Imran Khan Niazi promised 10 million jobs. Where are those jobs?" asked Shahbaz Sharif. "Where are the $300b that were supposed to be brought back to the country from abroad?"

Later, budget books were seen flying across the NA hall as lawmakers from both sides attempted to hit each other with full force.

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Amid fear of full-blown violence breaking out in the house, the National Assembly Secretariat requested its Senate counterpart to send some of its sergeants-at-arms to control the situation. But the additional security personnel too appeared helpless as lawmakers from both sides continued to target each other with barbs and objects.

"Today the whole nation saw on their TV screens how the ruling party resorted to hooliganism & even naked abuse. Only goes to show how ethically shallow Imran Khan and his whole party are and how PTI has turned into a fascist and abusive party. Unfortunate!" tweeted Shahbaz after the session.
Members of the government, however, held the opposition responsible for the ruckus.

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Defending his conduct, Awan said although his video of swearing had gone viral on social media, it was the opposition members who had crossed the line first.
He shared another video showing opposition members shouting anti-government slogans, and wrote: "PML-N members resorted to swearing first and shoved our members; my reaction was a response to their actions. It is important to see both sides of the picture."

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Commenting on the pandemonium, MNA Mohsin Dawar said, "Today was one of the lowest points of Pakistan's parliamentary history. Democracy and parliament were defaced under instructions of those who selected the unworthy into the parliament," he tweeted.

Similar scenes were witnessed in the lower House on Monday when, in an unprecedented move, Treasury members stopped the opposition leader from opening up the general debate on the budget, declaring that the government would not allow him and PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari to speak without first having a ‘written guarantee’ that they would hear speeches of Prime Minister Imran Khan and ministers silently.

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