The parliamentary leader of the Awami National Party (ANP) in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly, Sardar Hussain Babak, said the speaker of the provincial assembly, Asad Qaiser, is not attending the house proceedings and is busy running a PTI campaign for by-elections in violation of the law, therefore undermining status of the speaker as custodian of the house.
Babak said the speaker often remained absent for days from the house canvassing in NA 13 for his brother Aqibullah Khan, who is running for the same seat as a PTI candidate in by-elections scheduled to be held on August 22.
In the May 11 general elections, Asad Qaiser has won both the NA-13 (National Assembly) and PK -35 (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly) seats. He opted to retain the provincial assembly seat and become speaker of the house. He vacated the NA 13 National Assembly seat.
By-elections for the NA 13 constituency are scheduled to be held on August 22. Asad Qaiser – elected speaker of the KP assembly – is also a provincial president of PTI and is reportedly running the party election campaign for PTI candidate Aqibullah Khan.
Truth Tracker contacted ANP leader Sardar Hussain Babak and asked him about his statement. He confirmed his statement that the speaker is not giving time to the house proceedings and is busy in running an election campaign for his brother in NA 13, his home constituency.
“The post of the speaker is non-partisan and neutral … but [Qaiser] has been showing his biases since the day he was elected to the office [of speaker],” Babak tells TT.
To register a strong protest over the continued absence of the speaker from the house, the opposition staged a walk out from the assembly and demanded that the speaker give preference to the house proceedings over other engagements, said Babak.
Cabinet minister and spokesman for provincial government Shaukat Yousafazai denied the allegations that Mr Qaiser is busy campaigning for his brother in by-elections in the NA 13 constituency.
“The speaker is not chairing the house proceedings due to his domestic engagements, but he will be back soon,” Yousufzai told Truth Tracker.
On the topic of the speaker not resigning from the post of PTI provincial president after becoming speaker of the house, Yousufzai said the party leadership would soon sit and select the next man to head the party at the provincial level.
Mrs Nighat Aurakzai – another member of the KP assembly- also criticized the speaker for managing the election campaign of his brother in violation of the rules.
“The speaker is using government machinery and resources for the election campaign of his brother … [he is] announcing developmental schemes for the constituency to lure voters,” Aurakzai told Truth Tracker.
Truth Tracker tried to contact Asad Qaiser for comments, but he was not available.
A senior analyst from district Swabi, Muqadam Khan, confirmed that Asad Qaiser was regularly visiting the NA 13 constituency and addressing various gatherings and party meetings.
“On 14 June the Asad Qaiser [speaker] announced establishment of a Medical College in Swabi,” Muqadam told Truth Tracker when asked about any offering of developmental schemes to the constituency.
Considering the activities of the speaker and the comments of opposition members and independent analysts, Truth Tracker rates the statement of Sardar Hussain Babak as mostly true.