Feb 27, 2009

Zardari slammed PML-N members hold session outside PA

Members of the Punjab Assembly were forced on Thursday to hold the emergency session convened in the wake of disqualification of the Sharif brothers outside the House after the assembly gates were locked at the behest of Governor Salmaan Taseer. Punjab Assembly Speaker Rana Muhammad Iqbal and Deputy Speaker Rana Mashhood chaired the session comprising about 100 PML-N members, who reached there at 10am after crossing police barricades and braving the baton-charge. The police deployed at the place manhandled and took into custody as many as 14 MPAs and bundled them into vans for shifting to police lock-ups but released them on the intervention of the speaker, Law Minister Rana Sanaullah and other MPAs. The policemen also tried to take the speaker into custody but his personal security staff of the Punjab Assembly rescued him. The session began at the stairs leading to the main Punjab Assembly entrance around 10:30am and continued till 3pm during which members and workers of the PML-N kept raising slogans against President Zardari, Governor Salmaan Taseer and PCO judges. The slogans included “Zardari murderer of Benazir; Zardari murderer of democracy; NRO, president not acceptable.”The session condemned President Asif Zardari and Governor Salmaan Taseer for imposing the governor’s rule in Punjab, sealing the Punjab Assembly building, and manhandling MPAs. The condemnation was given voice in a privilege motion tabled by Rana Sanaullah, which was sent to the privilege committee by the speaker. Rana Sanaullah said both Zardari and Taseer proved that they lacked the majority to elect their leader of the House otherwise they would have used the constitutional course to ask the PML-N to elect a new leader to replace Shahbaz Sharif instead of imposing the governor’s rule. They were buying time to purchase the loyalties of enough MPAs to form their own government in the Punjab, he added. Rana said the PML-N enjoyed the requisite majority to form the government but the PPP government at the Centre had unconstitutionally deprived it of its mandate to rule the province. He claimed the PML-N was fully backed by the PML-Q forward bloc. Both the speaker and the deputy were given chairs while other MPAs sat on the floor during the session which also passed two resolutions. One resolution presented by Malik Nawaz condemned President Zardari for his “unwise and short-sighted act that not only jeopardises the country’s security but also the future of democracy.” It demanded that Asif Zardari should bring back the two billion dollars of public money that he had shifted to foreign banks. Another resolution moved by Rana Ijaz Khan demanded of the Punjab governor to immediately unlock the Punjab Assembly to allow the ruling PML-N to elect the new leader of the House. Rana Iqbal also called the locking of the Assembly building as a sheer insult to people’s mandate and democracy, warning that people would avenge the rulers for their anti-people and undemocratic actions. He said he was still the speaker and the people had rejected the undemocratic imposition of the governor’s rule. Talking to media, Rana Sanaullah said a non-elected governor had no authority to lock the assembly to prevent the elected members from carrying out their business of legislation. He demanded of President Zardari to hold fresh elections to see his popularity with the people. When Asked if the Punjab Assembly was dissolved, he said then fresh elections should be held within 90 days. He said the PML-N would continue the struggle for the restoration of democracy and would show that its leadership was eligible for leading the masses. He said if President Zardari was clean and sincere to lead the country, he should strike down the NRO to face corruption cases in the courts besides bringing back the plundered billions of dollars of public money to Pakistan. About the possibility of the Army’s intervention as a result of the political confrontation, he said his party was against the Army’s intervention but if the Army came then the PPP was to blame for creating such a situation. If the Army ever came, he said, the PML-N would wage struggle against it. The speaker adjourned the session for 3pm on Friday (today). However, it was expected that Rangers called up by the governor would cordon off the assembly building to prevent any member from reaching there.

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