ISLAMABAD - The year 2019 was one of the toughest years for the opposition parties in the recent history as scores of top sitting lawmakers including sitting opposition leader, former prime minister and former president remained imprisoned in different charges.

Most of the arrested opposition MNAs, in the outgoing year, probably have spent most of their time in the custody of law enforcement agencies.

The senior MNAs including sitting opposition leader Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif, former president /PPP-P Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari, PML-N MNA/former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, PPP-P MNA/former leader of opposition in the national assembly Syed Khursheed Shah, PML MNAs Rana Sanaullah, Khawaja Saad Rafique, Chaudhary Ahsan Iqbal and two MNAs from North Waziristan Ali Wazir and Mohsin Dawar were arrested by different law enforcement agencies during the year [2019].

With other major demands, the joint parliamentary opposition factions most of the time seen raising voice for issuance of production orders of arrested lawmakers.

MNAs PPP-P MNA and former leader of opposition in the national assembly Syed Khursheed Shah, PML MNAs Rana Sanaullah, Khawaja Saad Rafique, Chaudhary Ahsan Iqbal, two MNAs from north Waziristan Mohsin Dawar and Ali were not permitted to attend the house proceedings.

The colleagues of these arrested MNAs had also floated written and verbal requests to the speaker national assembly to allow them at least to attend proceedings of the standing committees.

The major opposition parties even blamed speaker national assembly Asad Qaiser for deliberately not issuing production orders of some of the MNAs, as half of these arrested lawmakers could not attend the proceedings after their arrest. Likewise, only Khwaja Muhammad Saad Rafique was allowed to attend the proceedings of the standing committee of railways.

Opposition MNA and PPP-P’s Central Information Secretary Nafeesa Shah, during this year 2019, had also made an attempt to introduce her bill related to minor changes in the issuance of production orders but still could not get through.

It may be mentioned here that the speaker national assembly has time and again assured the house that he had never compromised on rules and procedure and taken all the decisions on merit.

Political pundits viewed that maximum number of sitting MNAs from opposition side were imprisonment on different charges during 2019.

In previous governments’ eras, sitting MNAs from different parties including Kanwar Naveed from MQM, independent MNA Jamshed Dasti from Southern Punjab and others had remained in the custody of law enforcement agencies.

Some of them had also attended the proceedings of the national assembly on production orders. In 1999 [When former President Pervez Musharraf took over the government] some of the opposition MNAs were put on house arrest for different times.

Likewise, a large number of sitting MNAs had also remained behind the bars in early 1990s. These MNAs included Javed Hashmi, Tahir Rasheed, Chaudhary Sher Ali, Yaseen Watoo, Asfand Yar Wali, Haji Muhammad Bota, Sheikh Rashid, Muhammad Hamza and others.

Political observers said the joint opposition for the first time is seen forcefully raising the demand of issuing the production orders, as this demand was rarely heard in the previous era.