ISLAMABAD: A group of over 50 opposition leaders staged a protest in front of Parliament House in Islamabad on Thursday to protest the non-issuance of production orders for various politicians who are jailed.
The protest camp included Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Khawaja Asif, Ayaz Sadiq, Murtaza Javed Abbasi, Rana Tanveer, PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb as well Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) lawmakers Naveed Qamar, Shazia Marri and Shahida Rehmani.
Ahead of a National Assembly session, the protest camp included pictures of arrested leaders, including former president Asif Ali Zardari, former premier Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, PML-N leader Khawaja Saad Rafique and Rana Sanaullah. The protesting leaders also called for release of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter, PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz.
While speaking to the media, former foreign minister Asif said that the opposition leaders were protesting because of the approach of the National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser and the non-issuance of production orders for various leaders.
The rights of assembly members were being denied, he said.
“Our protest is symbolic,” Asif said, adding that yesterday while a National Assembly session was underway, PPP stalwart Khursheed Shah was arrested and Qaiser was unaware of this.
Shah joined a long list of opposition leaders — including ex-president Asif Ali Zardari, his sister Faryal Talpur, Nawaz Sharif, Abbasi, former finance minister Miftah Ismail, Maryam, Saad Rafique, incumbent leader of the opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif and his son Hamza Shahbaz — who are currently facing graft probes.
During the protest, PPP leader Qamar said that arresting opposition leaders such as Shah, Nawaz and Zardari would make no difference.
It was the responsibility of the custodian of the House to protect the rights of MNAs and the speaker didn’t care about this, he added.
He further added, “[they] want to run the assembly like Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), we will not let this happen.”
PML-N spokesperson Aurangzeb had announced that the protest was being staged to express solidarity with arrested opposition politicians, as well to oppose the “selected” prime minister’s dictatorial thinking and media restrictions.