GILGIT: The conference room of Gilgit-Baltistan Assembly turned into a battleground after lawmakers from government and opposition parties attacked each other with teacups and notepads on Thursday.
The violence occurred during an in-camera briefing organised by the government to discuss the removal of a tax rebate which the region benefited from for decades. This issue has resulted in transport and traders strikes in the region over the past two months. Lawmakers walked out of the assembly session on Wednesday to join the Anti-Tax Movement as it has come to be known.
The briefing was arranged on the directives of speaker Fida Nashad who had promised a debate regarding the issue a day earlier.
Storm in a teacup
According to insiders, unpleasantness commenced when Nawaz Khan Naji, a lawmaker from the opposition, shouted at Minister for Food and Agriculture Janbaz Khan for repeatedly interrupting lawmakers while they were speaking on the tax issue. “Janbaz responded by hitting Naji with a teacup,” the insider toldThe Express Tribune.
“Supporting Naji, Islami Tehreek Pakistan lawmaker Muhammad Shafi stood up and shouted at the minister prompting Minister for Works Dr Iqbal to stand up for Janbaz,” the source revealed.
During the fight, a misdirected empty cup hit senior minister Akbar Taban while a notepad hit Adviser to G-B Chief Minister Abid Baig on the face. A ruckus followed Shafi’s exit from the room, cursing at the ministers as he left.
“Who the hell is he to stop me from expressing my viewpoint?” Shafi yelled outside the room, where police, journalists and employees of the assembly had gathered in panic – and in a rush to see what was unfolding. “Mein us ko dekhoun ga,” he huffed, which loosely translates to “I’ll take care of him”.
Baig, who was attempting to placate Shafi, lost his spectacles which fell on the floor and shattered.
However, the issue was settled soon afterwards when warring lawmakers were brought back into the conference room and were forced to shake hands with each other. Baig, expressing satisfaction at the turn of events said, “This was highly unfortunate but I am glad it is settled now.”
The session proceedings took place in the absence of the chief minister who was on a visit to Naltar Valley with the force commander. -- The Express Tribune