AJK speaker refuses to summon session

11 March 2009
The Dawn

Muzaffarabad: Azad Kashmir Legislative Assembly Speaker Shah Ghulam Qadir on Wednesday refused to call the assembly session in accordance with a requisition by the opposition, saying that the requisition document carried six fictitious signatures. The opposition condemned the decision and announced it would hold the sitting on the premises of the assembly building on Thursday, exactly on the 14th day of submission of the requisition document in the assembly secretariat. The requisition document, purported to have been signed by 15 out of 16-member opposition, led by former prime minister Sardar Attique Ahmed Khan, was submitted in the secretariat on February 26. The opposition wanted to cash in on the political situation by voicing its sympathies with Sharif brothers through condemnation of their disqualification and imposition of governor's rule in the Punjab. According to the AJK Constitution, the speaker is bound to summon the session within 14 days of receipt of the requisition document. However, while the speaker maintained silence on the issue the government, in the meanwhile, summoned a regular session of the assembly on March 25, prompting the opposition to launch a series of allegations against the speaker that he was playing the role of President Asif Ali Zardari's agent. The speaker broke his silence at a press conference on Wednesday and said he could not summon the session because the requisition document carried fake signatures of six lawmakers, namely Pir Attiqur Rehman, Abdul Qayyum Niazi, Chaudhry Mohammad Ismail, Mehrun Nisa, Nasreen Mazhar Rani and Naheed Tariq. 'The signatures purported to have been put by these lawmakers on the requisition document are visibly different from the ones they have been putting on their salary bills,' said the speaker, as he showed both to the newsmen. Mr Qadir accused Sardar Attique of trying to get 'cheap publicity' by requisitioning a session through a 'fake document' in the wake of Sharif brothers' disqualification. 'However, their forgery stands exposed and in view of it I cannot summon the session,' he said. He said the house would hold a constitutional session on March 25. Meanwhile, the opposition lawmakers dismissed the allegations of the speaker, stressing that all signatures on the requisition document were genuine. 'The speaker has come to know after 14 days that the signatures are fictitious although the requisition document was submitted by the legislators by themselves. Actually, when he could not find any other excuse to avoid summoning the session, he cooked up the story of fictitious signatures,' he added. He accused the speaker of violating the constitution 'out of his love for Mr Zardari'. Meanwhile, official sources were foreseeing serious law and order problem on Thursday when the opposition lawmakers plan to hold a sitting at the entrance of the assembly. Leader of the opposition Sardar Attique Ahmed had arrived here in a big caravan of vehicles to attend the session.