KP PA again witnesses rumpus over ‘controversial’ recruitment

Khalid Kheshgi
Tuesday, Sep 14, 2021

PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly on Monday witnessed pandemonium when the speaker did not allow a lawmaker from the merged districts to talk about “controversial” recruitment in Health and other departments in the erstwhile tribal areas.

Without caring for the uproar and protest on the floor of the assembly, Deputy Speaker Mahmood Jan Khan, who was chairing the session, asked the provincial ministers to continue with the legislation and assembly business.

Amid the shouting and noise, many important bills were presented and passed in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly where the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf enjoyed an absolute majority.

The lawmakers of the opposition parties from merged districts have protested the alleged recruitment of non-locals mostly from Malakand division in Health and others departments in ex-Fata.

The House was virtually turned into a fish market recently over the recruitment in the Health Department in merged areas. Soon after recitation from the Holy Quran, Nisar Mohmand of Awami National Party, Sirajuddin of Jamaat-e-Islami, Bilawal Afridi and Shafiq Sher of Balochistan Awami Party (BAP), independent legislator Mir Kalam Wazir and two women MPAs sat in front of the speaker’s dais

They were holding placards inscribed with slogans, demanding jobs for the tribal people and share in uplift projects in merged areas. However, the speaker did not allow the parliamentary party leader of BAP Bilawal Afridi, who wanted to speak about the demands. The BAP is an ally of the PTI in the Centre and Balochistan Assembly.

The speaker told him that he would be given time after agenda items were discussed. The speaker remarked, “Bilawal don’t act like a child and be seated until I give you the forum.” This prompted the opposition lawmakers to start chanting slogans against the government, disturbing the question-hour, the first item on the agenda.

The situation became tense when Minister for Labour and Culture Shaukat Yusufzai and Bilawal Afridi exchanged harsh words. The combined opposition members sided with their colleagues from the merged district when the chair did not care about the noise and ruckus in the provincial assembly and continued legislation without considering the proposed amendments to certain bills.

Nighat Yasmin Orakzai of PPP tore up the agenda copies and texts of the bill when the chair did not provide her time to present and defend her amendment to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Local Government (amendment bill).

She stood on her desk for a while but to no avail and then joined the protesting MPAs in the assembly. However, the opposition members did not walk out of the assembly. Meanwhile, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Factories Amendment Bill 2021, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Universities second amendment bill, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Local Government amendment bill were tabled in the provincial assembly amid the protest of the MPAs.

Naeema Kishwar of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam termed the legislation and its procedure unconstitutional as the movers, who had proposed amendments to the bills, were not given time to discuss certain clauses of the proposed bills.

Speaking to media persons after the assembly session, Bilawal Afridi said neither he nor other lawmakers from the merged districts had personal interests but wanted to talk about the ‘illegal’ recruitment of non-locals in the Health and other departments in the tribal districts.

He said under the 25th Amendment, the people of former tribal areas would be given priority in the provision of government jobs. He claimed that the majority of the people were recruited from the home district of the chief minister.

However, Adviser to Chief Minister on Higher Education and Spokesperson of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government Kamran Bangash told The News after the assembly session that the development of the tribal districts was the topmost priority of the government.

He said the chief minister had ordered an inquiry into the recruitment of non-locals in tribal districts. He said the speaker had told the tribal MPAs that they would be given the floor at the completion of agenda items and they should wait for their turn.