Opposition parties stage token walkout of NA

  • Say holding peaceful protest people’s fundamental right
  • Dastagir tells House no written agreement with US on drone strikes inside Pakistan


The opposition parties, including the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) on Monday staged a walkout of the National Assembly to protest against the baton charging of PTI parliamentarians and workers and their arrests by Lahore police on Saturday.

Speaking on a point of order, PTI’s Shafqat Mehmood said holding a peaceful protest was a fundamental right of the people in a democratic government. “The police not only arrested PTI’s opposition leader in the Punjab Assembly and other parliamentarians, but also resorted to baton charge,” he said.

Shah Mehmood Qureshi of the PTI said the incident should be properly probed, responsibility be fixed and report be presented in the House.

Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Syed Khurshid Shah of the PPP condemned the police action against the PTI workers and said holding of peaceful protests should be allowed. He said action should be taken against the responsible officials.

JI’s Sahibzada Tariqullah said such issues should be resolved through dialogue.

MQM lawmakers and chief of Awami Muslim League Sheikh Rashid also condemned the police action and walked out of the House.

Minister for Kashmir Affairs Birjees Tahir assured the House that action would be taken against the officials involved in the incident. Even the prime minister had taken serious notice of the issue and directed the provincial government to ensure that such incidents should not occur in future.




Meanwhile, the National Assembly was informed that there was no written agreement with the United States for drone strikes within Pakistani territory.

“There is no such written agreement with the United States. But, it seems that there was some understanding between the US and the two previous Pakistani governments (2002-08 and 2008-13),” Minister of State for Privatisation Khurram Dastagir said in the House in reply to a question during the question hour.

He said as the US did not recognise the drone strikes, they never released any figures. “But, some other organisations have recorded authentic figures of drone attacks as 339 till to date since 2004.”

“But, the present government shall not pursue a foreign policy based on understandings. In our tenure, all agreements with other states shall be in writing. The figure of drone attacks apparently shows that there had been some understanding between the two countries,” he added.

Dastagir apprised the House that the government’s policy was very clear on drone strikes and the prime minister in his first speech had reaffirmed his stance that drone attacks must come to an end.

“On the prime minister’s instructions, the Foreign Office had lodged a strong protest with the US government against the recent drone strikes,” he added.

He said the government emphasised that drone strikes violated Pakistan’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and were also in contravention of international law and the UN Charter.

The minister said the attacks were significantly reduced after US Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit to Pakistan.

He said Pakistan had expressed and conveyed its serious concern and reservations over the drone strikes to the US government. “The government will continue to pursue this matter with the US government at every level,” he added.

He said the prime minister would also take up the matter with the US government during his visit to the US.