ISLAMABAD - The 17th National Assembly session on its first day (Thursday) witnessed two separate walkouts of opposition parties (PPP and MQM) against the non-seriousness of the government benches in the house and the five percent increase in GST on fuel prices.

The rare unity of political forces seen at the Parliamentary Parties’ Conference after the tragic incident of the Peshawar Army Public School carnage was not witnessed on the first day of 2015 in the National Assembly.

The lackluster environment was testimony to the fact that except the leader of opposition in the National Assembly Khursheed Shah no bigwig from any political party took part in the debate on the Peshawar carnage.

Sensing the non-seriousness, the opposition parties forcefully asked the chair to immediately adjourn the session due to thin presence of members and absence of the prime minister and other main ministers in the house.

PPP, the major opposition party, even made it clear to the chair that they would refrain from participating in the proceedings if the ministers concerned did not show up in the house next day (Friday). PPP lawmakers again left the house over the absence of the main treasury members.

A treasury benches member from PkMAP, Mehmood Achakzai, also joined hands with PPP and put weight behind Khursheed Shah’s suggestion, but Speaker Ayaz Sadiq did not accept the proposal to adjourn the house. “Huge money of the national kitty is spent on a session, so it is better to run the house for some more hours,” the speaker argued.

Defending the government side, Federal Minister for Defence Production Rana Tanveer said there was no need to adjourn the house as some ministers were busy in meetings on security-related matters. “It is not time of point-scoring. Don’t make mockery of the Parliament as the government is registering the proposals of the opposition,” he said, adding in PPP’s era Khursheed Shah used to give answers on behalf of all the ministries at question-hour sessions in their absence from the house. “Key ministers are busy in a meeting at the PM House about National Action Plan against terrorism while the state minister and the parliamentary secretary are present here,” he added.

Earlier, Leader of Opposition Khursheed Shah said increase in GST on fuel prices was an undemocratic decision. “We will not accept this gift,” he said, criticising the absence of the prime minister from the house.

Opening the debate on the tragic incident of the Peshawar school, Khursheed Shah spoke in favour of establishing military courts in the country. “The military courts should be established in the country if needed,” he said, adding Army Act should be amended rather than amending the Constitution.

He opposed amendments in the Constitution for this purpose, adding they should learn lessons from sacrifices. “Only condemnation is not enough, there is a need to ascertain the culprits’ mentality,” he added.

He advised the government not to go for controversial things that might damage the consensus in the country against terrorism as it would be beneficial only for terrorists.

Taking part the in debate, MQM’s Rashid Godil also came down hard on the government’s decision of increasing five percent GST on fuel prices.

About the Peshawar carnage, the MQM leader strongly criticised KP CM, adding he who was dancing to the tunes of his party songs on August 28 when intelligence agencies sent the reports of threats to the provincial government. “The MQM chief was the first, who informed the authorities of the presence of Taliban in the country and now he has cautioned about the presence of Daesh,” he added.

A treasury lawmaker, Rajab Ali Baloch, taking part in the debate, said these innocent children would be a source of redemption of Muslims. He strongly condemned the tragic incident of the Army Public School in Peahawar.

Another government lawmaker, Tahir Iqbal, said there was a need to set timeframe of the military courts before establishing them. He, however, said military courts are need of the hour.  Other lawmakers, including Sahibzada Yaqoob, Rahim Mandokhel, Jamaluddin and Shah G Gul Afridi, also strongly condemned the Peshawar school tragic incident.