ISLAMABAD – In special National Assembly sitting, summoned to debate expulsion of the French ambassador form Pakistan, National Assembly speaker yesterday advised government and opposition to develop consensus for unanimously passing the resolution on this important issue.
With onset of proceedings, PTI’s MNA Amjad Ali Khan presented a resolution that strongly condemned publication of blasphemous caricatures by French magazine Charlie Hebdo [in September last year] and initiated a debate on issue of expelling the French ambassador from Pakistan.
The resolution regretted the French president’s “encouragement of the elements hurting sentiments of hundreds of millions of Muslims in the name of freedom of expression”.
It also asked for a debate to be held on issue of expelling the French ambassador from Pakistan, and to “apprise all European countries, especially France, of the gravity of this matter”. It says, “a detailed discussions on the matter should be held with all Muslim countries and it should be taken up jointly on international forums”.
According to the resolution, “This house demands that the state should decide matters of international relations and no person, group or party can exert unnecessary illegal pressure in this regard”.
PTI’s MNA Amjad Ali Khan, soon after presenting the resolution, asked the chair to form a special committee for considering contents of the resolution.
Pakistan People’s Party [PPP-P] boycotted special proceedings of the house. The opposition party stayed away from the proceedings for not taking it into confidence over the resolution.
The opposition parties were not unanimous with a portion of the resolution and asked the chair to give them an hour to deliberate on its contents thoroughly so that a unanimous resolution could be passed from the house. The opposition members also gathered around speaker’s podium in protest, as they expressed strong reservations for not sharing copy of an agreement with the house.
The chair, after sensing annoyance of the opposition, did not present the resolution for voting. He asked both the government and opposition to develop consensus to pass a unanimous resolution in the house.
The lawmakers from both sides delivered emotional speeches after presentation of the resolution and reached a consensus to move a unanimous resolution in the house.
PML-N’s senior MNA Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, initiating a debate from opposition side, expressed reservation over one portion of the resolution. “Give us [PML-N] one hour to read and incorporate our input in this resolution,” he said, mentioning that the entire country was “unanimous” on the issue of the protection of Namoos-i-Risalat. He blamed the chair for making it controversial within the house.
“I am sorry, but this resolution should have been unanimous. You and the government did not bother to talk to the opposition regarding purpose of calling the special sitting,” he said, mentioning that there was no difference of opinion on Tahaffuz-i-Namoos-i-Risalat and Khatm-i-Nabuwwat.
Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan, responding to the concerns raised by opposition member, said the government wanted a debate on the matter but the resolution moved by a private member was based on exact discussions held between the government and the recently proscribed Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP).
JUI-F’s MNA Maulana Asad said that the government should share a draft of agreement with the house. He expressed some reservations on the draft of the resolution. “We have some reservations on a portion of the resolution,” he said, mentioning that the government should not ignore opposition as they would suggest their input for the resolution. He warned the speaker to incorporate their concerns in the draft of the resolution, if the government wanted to pass it unanimously.
Minister for Religious Affairs Minister Pir Noorul Haq Qadri, on his turn, said that the government wanted to resolve the matter with negotiations and in favour of taking the parliament into confidence. He was interrupted by the opposition during his speech when he was praising efforts of the Prime Minister to raise the voice against Islamophobia.
PML-N’s Ahsan Iqbal said that Prime Minister Imran Khan should have attended proceedings of the house. “Prime Minister should have been here. What else would be important than this matter,” he said, adding that the government should share agreement made with TLP with the house.
This special sitting was called Tuesday’s morning, as the National Assembly was scheduled to meet on Thursday. The house , after developing consensus, likely to pass resolution on Friday.
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