LAHORE - Drones drama – a term coined by Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan – turned the House into a fish market during Punjab Assembly’s Tuesday proceedings.

The rumpus got underway when the speaker, after approving more than three dozen leave applications of lawmakers, opened the House for public interest resolutions.

Moving forward, the opposition leader, Mehmoodur Rasheed, urged the chair, deputy speaker Sardar Sher Ali Gorchani, to debate [out of turn] his resolution about drone attacks – an issue directly linked to the country’s sovereignty. His request was however turned down by the chair.

Upon this, Rasheed of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf questioned how come the House ignored the resolution about the drone strikes issue which was related to the national sovereignty and integrity. He rejected Law Minister Sanaullah’s suggestion that the resolution was taken up towards the end of the session after the House’s agenda for the day.

Rahseed was of the view that if the House could adopt an out-of-order resolution about militants attacking a media outlet in Karachi, then what was wrong with taking the resolution on drone attacks up before its turn. “Does the issue of drone strikes worth less than the attack on the media outlet?”

The discussions in the National Assembly as well as All-Party Conference spoke volumes about the importance and seriousness of the drones issue, Rasheed contended as he underscored that no matter could worth more than Pakistan’s sovereignty.

Nevertheless, Gorchani, after taking the suggestion of Sanaullah, asked the opposition leader the issue would be debated after the other resolutions were gone over. This prompted slogans, such as “stop drone attacks”, from the opposition benches and the chair’s requests for ‘order in the House’ were all ignored, as if a protest was going on in any Lahore neighbourhood.

A commotion set in when the treasury benches chanted, “daramay bazi band karo”, after the law minister just had coined the term “drones drama” while referring to the opposition’s protest. The treasury MPs and law minister even went on to call the opposition a ‘Jewish lobby’. In such a situation no one was ready to listen to the deputy speaker’s call for order.

Later, the opposition staged a walkout, amid the treasury’s slogan of “run, run Jewish lobby run.’ Sanaullah then said the opposition was working on an agenda of the Jews.

Later on, the speaker sent provincial ministers Malik Nadeem Kamran and Khalil Tahir Sindho to smooth over the situation and bring the opposition back to the House.

After some time, the two ministers came back with a demand from the protesting opposition that the law minister retracted his words “drone drama”.

The ministers further state the opposition did not seem interested in returning to the House. The speaker, upon this, remarked that the opposition was given the chance to speak [over the issue] but they did not avail it.

At this point, Rana Sanaullah clarified that the government did want to take up the resolution, but the opposition was doing politics over it. He again termed the opposition’s resolution as “drones drama”, denying categorically to take back his words.

Earlier, the law minister briefed the House about recent tension in the Punjab University. He said just 80 to 90 activists of a student’s organisation wanted to take the varsity hostage, but the government would not let anyone spoil the peaceful environment of the high seat of learning.

Also, the media on Tuesday boycotted the assembly session to record their protest over the ‘terrorist’ attack on the Karachi office of an English daily. A unique feature of the matter was a common solidarity expressed by the parliamentarians on both sides of the divide with the media.

Although the legislators did not move out along with the mediapersons, everyone stood by the cause of their protection and their workplaces.

Howe seriously the House took the walkout protest of the journalists could be assessed from the fact that the speaker, Rana Muhammad Iqbal Khan, kept the proceedings suspended till a joint team of the Opposition and the Treasury could bring the annoyed newsmen back to the House.

Provincial Minister Malik Nadeem Kamran, Opposition Leader Mahmoodur Rasheed, Dr Rass Murad, Chaudhry Iqbal Gujjar, Khawaja Imran and others came out to convince the mediamen.

Led by President Punjab Assembly Press Gallery Babar Dogar, President Lahore Press Club Arshad Ansari, PFUJ President Rana Muhammad Azeem and others office-bearers, the journalists carrying placards, chanted slogans aloud against the attackers and sought protection to the journalist community.

Nadeem Kamran and others while talking to media representatives praised the role the media played to bring democracy to the country, while Ansari, Dogar and others put across to the legislation the hazards the mediamen had been faced with and the government callous response towards proper safety and security of the journalists.

Later the assembly carried out a resolution condemning the attack and seeking concrete steps from the government for protection of media outlets and the journalist community.