The introduction of a key bill in the National Assembly seeking to protect national leaders from contempt of court charges was put on hold till next week to mourn the death of former MP Fauzia Wahab.
Colleagues remembered the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) parliamentarian as a “brave face of democracy” and called for a parliamentary probe into her death, caused allegedly due to negligence by doctors at a private hospital in Karachi last month.
However, National Assembly Speaker Dr Fehmida Mirza deferred the decision of constituting a House committee to launch an inquiry into Wahab’s death.
It was believed that the government would immediately introduce a proposed constitutional amendment to protect dual national MPs from disqualification, as well as a bill to amend contempt proceedings as soon as the National Assembly began an out-of-routine session here on Friday.
However, Religious Affairs Minister Khursheed Ahmed Shah asked the speaker to adjourn the House for the day in line with a parliamentary tradition to mourn its deceased members.
Before calling it a day, members from all parties paid glowing tribute to Wahab, highlighting the personal, social and political aspects of her personality.
Experienced, courageous and self-made were the words Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf chose to describe Wahab and eulogise her services to the country, the parliament and democracy.
“She was an asset of the PPP … she always played her part in the most befitting manner both during the days of the party’s government and opposition. Her death is a shock for democracy,” Prime Minister Ashraf said.
Awami National Party’s Bushra Gohar said Wahab had mastered the art of solving complex issues in life with a smile on her face, in a reference to her personal life.
Gohar recalled that Wahab was the first parliamentarian to condemn religious extremism after the death of former Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer. She also demanded the initiation of a parliamentary probe into Wahab’s death.
Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl’s Asia Nasir said the sudden death of Wahab was an indescribable loss.
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s Khawaja Saad Rafiq remembered Wahab as a diehard activist who struggled against the dictatorship of former military ruler Pervez Musharraf.
“She was a political comrade and should be a role model for workers in all parties,” Rafiq said.
The house will meet again Monday evening.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 7th, 2012.