ISLAMABAD - JAVAID-UR-RAHMAN/Agencies - There was a panic in National Assembly on Thursday. It seemed as if someone has dropped a hand grenade (Dasti bomb) all of sudden amid the ongoing proceedings.
It was Jamsheed Khan Dasti who put the House on fire by alleging his co-parliamentarians of indulging in immoral activates in their official residences. The young independent legislator from southern Punjab stunned all by saying that adultery, Mujras (dance parties) and use of alcohol and drugs have become a norm at the parliament lodges, a block of flats that houses scores of MPs.
Inviting a lot of criticism from his apparently perturbed colleagues from both sides of the aisle, MNA Jamshed Dasti claimed he has evidence of dance parties in the parliament lodges, as he went on to make a string of ‘revelations’. “Liquor worth around 50 million rupees is supplied in the lodges annually,” Dasti said as he drew the attention of the House demanding an immediate inquiry into the matter. He further alleged alcohol and cannabis were used in the flats located near parliament, and the air around them always carries the stench of banned drugs. “Smell of Hashish in the corridors of lodges is routine matter. Women of ill-repute are brought and even dance parties are held,” he said, claiming that he possesses video evidence of such parties.
There was need to screen-test all the parliamentarians to filter out the drunkards and drugs addicts, said Daist, who is known by the name of ‘15’ in his constituency with reference to quick response police emergency service as the lawmaker is all the time ready to help the poor and helpless of his area in their hour of need.
Naeema Kishwar, who was chairing the session in the absence of the Speaker, switched off Dasti’s microphone before he could make more ‘revelations’, and asked him to provide proof to back up his claims. She suggested that the MNA could have informed the speaker about it in his chamber rather than sharing it on the floor of the House. Some fellow lawmakers from different parties termed his statement as ‘devastating’ attack on the parliament and demanded expunging it from the proceedings record.
Speaker Ayaz Sadiq later said Dasti should have raised these issues in his chamber instead of talking about them in the House. Despite the immense pressure, the speaker however did not expunge the allegations of Dasti and asked him to provide proof of the allegations. “This information could be shared with me in the chamber, but now provide me evidences as action will be taken if it turned out to be true,” the speaker said, while cautioning Dasti that if his allegations proved wrong then he will be dealt with accordingly.
Challenging his allegations, MAN Raza Hayat Hiraj saud that Dasti blamed all the parliamentarians. “It was devastating attack on the parliamentarians who are elected from different parts of the country,” he said, asking the chair to expunge his word before making it record of the proceeding. He further demanded that Dasti should produce the proof and he should adopt the legal way of going to police station to register the complaint. Hiraj even made personal attack on Dasti by asking him to tell how he has been running free bus service in his constituency despite his claiming to be a poor man.
Having almost same feelings, MNA Rajab Ali and other MNAs registered strong protest on these remarks and asked Dasti to avoid making such ‘general’ statements that tarnish the image of all the parliamentarians without any distinction.
“I have video evidence and I will hand over the same to the Speaker to take action,” Dasti later told reporters. Repeating his claims he said, ‘Mujras’ were held in the parliament lodges and parliamentarians living in the lodges spend 40 to 50 million rupees on alcohol every year. He challenged all parliamentarians to undergo a medical checkup to prove him wrong.
He was supported by several lawmakers. Nabeel Gabol, a lawmaker of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, said Dasti’s remarks were based on facts. Israrullah Zahri, a member of the Senate (upper house) from the ruling PML-N, too backed Dasti’s statements.
However, Pakistan People’s Party parliamentarian Mola Baksh Chandio, who lives in the Lodges, said he had never heard anything like the allegations made by Dasti. He added that humans could make mistakes.
Dasti was elected as an independent member from Muzaffargarh district in southern Punjab in last year’s general election. In 2008, he was elected on a PPP ticket but later left the party, saying it was controlled by feudal lords and industrialists.
A self-styled voice of the underdog, Dasti is considered the poorest lawmaker in a parliament dominated by the elite. Dasti does not own a house or a car and travels with commoners in public transport vehicles. It is also said he works as a part-time driver of a bus in his hometown. In his annual income returns submitted to the Election Commission, Dasti said he has only a bank account where his salary as a parliamentarian is deposited, and this is his sole source of income.