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ANP, PML-N legislators clash over Pakhtunkhwa

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    ANP, PML-N legislators clash over Pakhtunkhwa

    ANP, PML-N legislators clash over Pakhtunkhwa

    Saturday, November 22, 2008

    ISLAMABAD: Acrimonious exchange of words took place between the Awami National Party (ANP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) legislators in the National Assembly on Friday over calling the NWFP as ‘Pakhtunkhwa’ by the former.

    The ANP legislator’s derogatory remarks against Mian Nawaz Sharif added fuel to the fire. Deputy Speaker Faisal Karim Kundi saved the situation from getting out of control by reading out the presidential order for the prorogation of the National Assembly session.

    The issue of opposing the term Pakhtunkhwa brought the Q-League and the PML-N on the same side of the fence while the PPP, the ANP and the MQM supported the Pakhtunkhwa. The PML-N was of the opinion that the name Pakhtunkhwa did not exist and it would not be constitutionally appropriate to call the NWFP by any other name till the Constitution was amended to rename the province. The supporters of the Pakhtunkhwa argued that the provincial assembly had already adopted unanimous resolutions twice seeking renaming of the province as Pakhtunkhwa and that these resolutions should be respected.

    The MQM legislators staged a token walkout from the House against the deputy speaker for not giving time to Haider Abbas Rizvi to speak on a point of personal explanation. But Mian Raza Rabbani managed to bring back the MQM members to the House.

    More than the issue of Pakhtunkhwa, it was ANP’s Pervez Khan’s remarks against Nawaz Sharif that infuriated the PML-N members who protested loudly. However, Deputy Speaker Faisal Karim Kundi expunged the remarks of the ANP legislator.

    It all started when on a point of order, Captain (retd) Muhammad Safdar, referred to the speech of Haider Abbas Rizvi in which he called the NWFP as Pakhtunkhwa. “There is no entity in the Constitution named Pakhtunkhwa and if they want to change the name of the province, then they will have to amend the Constitution,” he said.

    Referring to the speech of Mian Raza Rabbani, who also described the NWFP as Pakhtunkhwa, he asked Rabbani to send the copy of the Constitution to him in which this name was mentioned.

    “Please do not adopt the ways of dictators, who made amendments to the Constitution on their own,” he added. Amir Muqam of the Q-League also supported his point of view. Minister for Inter-Provincial Coordination Mian Raza Rabbani lamented that the PML-Q supported the dictator when he mutilated the Constitution and today they were asking others not to adopt the ways of dictators. He reminded them that the NWFP provincial assembly had twice adopted the unanimous resolution for changing the name of the province.

    “When any provincial assembly adopts a resolution and sends it to the federal government, then it is a constitutional obligation to act likewise. Those who sat with Musharraf for nine years are now talking about the provincial rights,” he said.

    He said the coalition government will provide provincial autonomy to the provinces and will come out soon with a constitutional package. “The government intends to strengthen the provinces so that the federation is strengthened. Denial of provincial autonomy weakens the state,” he added.

    Speaking on a point of personal explanation, Haider Abbas Rizvi of the MQM said that nobody objected when the NWFP was referred to as “Sarhad”, as this word was also not mentioned in the Constitution. “But in syllabus, the NWFP is often mentioned as ‘Sarhad’ so there should be no objection to calling it Pakhtunkhwa. The MQM does not believe in the centralisation of power,” he added.

    Pervez Khan of the ANP said the provincial assembly had adopted the resolution to rename his province as Pakhtunkhwa and there should not be any objection from anyone. “Rather than raising objections, the provincial assembly resolution should be implemented in letter and spirit,” he said.

    However, in his emotional speech, he passed some derogatory remarks against Mian Nawaz Sharif, which enraged the PML-N legislators and they all started protesting loudly. Mian Raza Rabbani requested the deputy speaker to expunge all remarks against Nawaz Sharif, which he did.

    However, speaking on personal explanation, Captain (retd) Muhammad Safdar in an emotional outburst termed the ANP agent of Russia and India. “We did not lick the shoes of Gandhi and Nehru,” he said in pointed reference to the ANP leadership. His remarks angered the ANP legislators and thus started an acrimonious exchange of words between the two parties. Deputy Speaker Faisal Karim Kundi read out the prorogation order of the president to bring the rumpus to an end.

    My Comments: I believe Nawaz Sharif's party are correct in stating that you must change the name in the constitution because only then is it legal to refer to it as such in parliament. If we are moving towards democracy then that's the least we can do, and it would also finish this renaming debate once and for all.