National Assembly in shock: Two soldiers `train' guns at minister
By Raja Asghar
ISLAMABAD, Nov 8: The National Assembly appeared shocked to hear from opposition leader Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan on Monday that two soldiers had insulted a federal minister in his flag-bearing car earlier in the day by training their guns at him at a checkpoint near parliament when a four-star general too was in the area.
The government acknowledged that this "serious" incident had happened, which Petroleum and Natural Resources Minister Naveed Qamar said would be taken up with "appropriate authorities".
Deputy Speaker Faisal Karim Kundi, chairing the proceedings at the time, called for a report about what he called an incident of "highhandedness" before the house concludes its current session after four days.
But neither of the three men who spoke about the matter identified the minister involved in the incident, which the opposition leader said happened some time in the afternoon, when he also drove around 2pm through the Constitution Avenue, on which the Parliament House is located and where one of the checkpoints normally manned by police checks vehicles going towards the Parliament House as well as the nearby presidency and the Prime Minister's House.
Also none of them named the general for whom troops came to control traffic, although Chief of Army Staff Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani met President Asif Ali Zardari on Monday afternoon.
Chaudhry Nisar said he saw "a lot of military activity" on the avenue at the time, giving him the impression that "some four-star general" was coming to meet either the president or Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and that he was informed by some witnesses later on coming to his office in parliament about a minister's car flying the national flag having been stopped along with other cars by two soldiers "carrying bandooks (rifles)" and controlling traffic at the checkpoint instead of police.
"The soldiers did not have the courtesy to salute the national flag… which is the duty of every uniformed Pakistani," he said.
"The matter did not end there," he said, and added that when the driver of the minister — who too he thought was heading towards the presidency or the prime minister's house — "tried to move his car forward, the two soldiers trained their guns" (towards the inmates).
"Is it the national army or an individual's army," the opposition leader asked and stressed the troops had no business to assume police job. "If they stop me tomorrow, I will not stop."
The army would enjoy the nation's respect only if it complied with its constitutional duty of defending the borders, Chaudhry Nisar said, drawing cheers from his PML-N colleagues as well many PPP members.
Minister Naveed Qamar said it was a "serious matter" to stop the car of a minister with the national flag or of any elected member of the house and added: "The government takes it seriously. We will take up the matter with appropriate authorities."
The opposition also lashed out at the government mainly over the prevailing price hike, particularly the recently raised prices of petroleum products though a formal debate on opposition adjournment motions scheduled for the day could not begin because of time lost in speeches of members on points of order before the house was adjourned until 5pm on Wednesday.
However, Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Sheikh promised to brief the house in camera or in an open session about the country's economic problems.
The house passed a bill further amending the National Database and Registration Authority Ordinance of 2000.
The MQM ended their boycott of the house but staged a token walkout to protest against the price hike.
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