ISLAMABAD: The joint opposition led by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Thursday held a ‘mock’ National Assembly (NA) session outside the Parliament House to protest the arrest of Opposition Leader Shehbaz Sharif.
The protest was held after NA Speaker Asad Qaiser announced that the session of the Lower House would be held next week, on October 17 and not earlier, against the opposition’s demand. The opposition protested against the decision saying that the session coincided with the end of remand given for Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Shehbaz Sharif.
Members of opposition parties, except the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), gathered outside Parliament House, with some of them holding placards with anti-government slogans written on them.
Former NA speaker Ayaz Sadiq chaired the mock session in which a ‘call to attention’ notice was also presented regarding the arrest of Shehbaz Sharif.
On Wednesday, Qaiser had summoned a session of the Lower House on October 17 and also issued production orders for Opposition Leader Shehbaz Sharif, enabling him to attend the session.
The opposition parties, however, were adamant to protest outside the Parliament House on Thursday, saying the NA speaker did not accept their demand for calling the NA session this week.
“We had requested for the NA session to be called ‘timely’ but the NA speaker did not accept our request,” said PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb.
Talking to Pakistan Today, PML-N Chairman Raja Zafarul Haq had said the decision to issue production orders for Shehbaz Sharif was a positive decision but since it also coincides with the end of remand given for Sharif, it would not facilitate the opposition leader.
“I feel that Speaker National Assembly acted under pressure from the government. When we had met the Speaker to make formal request for an early requisition of the NA session, we found his attitude as very positive towards our request,” he said.
Haq had said the PML-N delegation told the speaker that it was mandatory to requisite the NA session as Shehbaz Sharif was not only an MNA but also leader of the opposition.
“Hence, the PML-N leader deserved to be released and an emergent session be called. The speaker told us that he would consult with some people in this regard. I think that the government prevailed over him and asked him not to call the NA session till Shehbaz’s remand ends,” the PML-N leader said.
Earlier, NAB had arrested Shehbaz Sharif—who had ruled Punjab for over 10 years—in the Ashiana Iqbal Housing Society Scam case and sent him on judicial remand for 10 days.
Meanwhile, the NA spokesperson said that calling a ‘mock’ session by the opposition, despite summoning the NA session before completion of 14 days period and issuance of production order of Shahbaz Sharif was against the parliamentary traditions.
In a statement, he said the NA speaker has fulfilled all demands of the opposition but still the opposition conducted the session outside the Parliament House, which had no any justification.