PPP stages walkout over ‘disappearances’

* Government faces embarrassment over adjournment of House due to lack of quorum
PPP stages walkout over ‘disappearances’
By: By Ijaz Kakakhel

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) members on Friday staged a walkout from the National Assembly to protest against the disappearance of three close aides of former president Asif Ali Zardari.

On a point of order, PPP leader Syed Naveed Qamar said that people were being “picked up and made to disappear”. “The whereabouts of three PPP loyalists still remain unknown. They were only connected to a single person, Asif Ali Zardari,” he said.

Ghulam Qadir Marri, Ashfaque Leghari and Nawab Leghari disappeared from various parts of the country, triggering fears within the PPP that Zardari might be the actual target.

“As there is no clarity regarding their whereabouts, so we (PPP) will assume that they have been picked up by the government,” he said.

“We have been requesting the government for the past five days to give us some information about these persons. This was a federal issue. However, the government has completely ignored it,” he said.

“Today, our people are being made to disappear. In the past, it was the problem facing the Muttahida Qaumi Movement. In the coming days, this could also affect the ruling party,” Qamar said. He said ignoring the issue would further aggravate the situation. “If the government has no response to the issue, then it must tell us why it is helpless. The government and the Parliament cannot be run in such a way. We are not getting a satisfactory response from the government. We cannot become a part of the business of the House. We are staging a walkout from the House to register our protest,” he said.

It was the second consecutive day of embarrassment for the government as it failed to meet quorum in the National Assembly. The sitting was adjourned without transacting regular business other than the question hour.

On Thursday, the sitting of the National Assembly was also adjourned due to lack of quorum when it was pointed out by the opposition.

After the question hour, Deputy Speaker Murtaza Javed Abbasi had wanted to give the floor of the House to Adviser to PM on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz for giving a policy statement on international issues.

However, a lawmaker belonging to the PPP pointed out the quorum after the rest of his party members left the House. As the House was not in order, the sitting was adjourned till Monday.

Friday’s proceedings had lasted for around an hour and 20 minutes. The Parliamentary leaders of Jamaat-e-Islami, All Pakistan Muslim League and PML-Z had attended the session.

At the outset, the House offered fateha for the departed soul of a student who had been shot dead at Abdul Wali Khan University in Mardan.

To a question, Minister of State for Federal Education and Professional Training Muhammad Balighur Rehman told the House that the number of out-of-school children had drastically decreased in the last three years due to government efforts. “Around 55 percent out-of-school children have been brought back to schools in Islamabad Capital Territory, 23 percent of Punjab, 10 percent in KP and seven percent in AJK. It is unfortunate that zero percent reduction in out-of-school children was recorded in Sindh,” he said.



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