Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif on Thursday said that the opposition leaders who had openly cursed the parliament at a rally in Lahore should be summoned to appear before the National Assembly to explain their remarks.
On Wednesday, opposition parties, under the leadership of the Pakistan Awami Tehreek, held a gathering on Lahore’s Mall Road, kick-starting their campaign for the ouster of the PML-N government.
During the rally, Sheikh Rashid repeatedly cursed the parliament and announced his resignation from his National Assembly seat, prompting Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan to consider quitting the assemblies on the grounds that parliament had lost its utility in protecting people’s rights. Khan, voicing his support for Rashid, had also “cursed” the parliament.
Addressing the National Assembly on Thursday, Asif said that the opposition leaders should be called into the National Assembly and if they fail to appear, they should be arrested.
“We will not permit this [language],” Asif said. “The elections are coming up, everyone has the right to campaign and gather support from voters — but no one has the right to curse.”
“This House has never seen such shameful conduct,” Asif added.
“Whatever little respect you have, you have gotten it through your membership in the parliament,” Asif said, addressing Khan and Rashid.
“They (Khan and Rashid) are hurting the sanctity of this institution,” he added.
“If those who derive their strength from the parliament curse it, then all others institutions will lose respect for it. It will no longer be necessary for the other institutions to respect the parliament.”
“Those who are members of this House and want to become the prime minister have insulted it,” Asif said.
He called for action to be taken against Khan and Rashid by the privilege committee before the media.
Parliament can save the country: Khursheed Shah
Addressing the House after the foreign minister, Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Khursheed Shah recalled that in the past 40 years, the parliament has seen many highs and lows.
“We have a scary history,” he said.
“There are politicians who have given unimaginable sacrifices for this parliament. I was 16-years-old when I went to jail for the first time,” he said.
He said that the parliament is the institution that could save the country, adding that he felt sorrow when he heard the remarks made by Khan and Rashid.
He said that the parliament had written the Constitution that had given Pakistanis “the right to speak, the right to ask for rights, to strengthen the institutions and distribute power to them.”
“This parliament made Pakistan a nuclear power, gave the country missile technology and stole power from dictators to give to the provinces.”
“The words that were used against the parliament… I cannot speak about them.”
“We are set on contempt of institutions,” he said, adding that even former prime minister Nawaz Sharif has committed contempt against the institutions.