Federal Minister for Communications and MNA Murad Saeed made headlines on Tuesday after taking active part in a clash between the treasury and opposition MNAs at a National Assembly session. Videos explicitly showing Saeed hurling budget documents and a book at the opposition, standing on one of the benches at the National Assembly, have been trending on social media.
The National Assembly session in Islamabad on Tuesday had to be deferred after a conflict between the treasury and opposition turned brutal, with scenes from the assembly resembling a war zone. Opposition Leader Shahbaz Sharif was interrupted for the second time in two days during his speech regarding the budget as Speaker National Assembly Asad Qaiser had to suspend the session to calm the members down.
This time, however, things escalated when Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Capital Development Authority Affairs, Ali Nawaz Awan, attempted to hurl a book at Sharif and is believed to have initiated chaos in the Assembly. Security staff rushed to stop any physical confrontation among the MNAs, yet video evidence of disorderly behaviour from many members, including hooting, whistling, cursing, and throwing documents and books at others, was recorded.
Aaj Digital chose not to run the videos due to their explicit language.
Social media had quite a day discussing Tuesday’s events:
The chaos also became the subject of embarrassment and wit for Twitter users who joked about “making lighter budgets” and compared the frenzy to apparel brand sales, which are known to be premises of chaos in Pakistan. Others saw flashbacks of classrooms when the teacher was absent:
While the budget wars yesterday did stir up some creative tweets, they also brought to surface the current state of the lawmakers of Pakistan, as journalist Munizae Jahangir noted in her tweet.
Yet, Murad Saeed received Twitter’s undivided attention for standing ‘above’ everyone else in the unpleasant events. His aggressive flinging of torn documents and even a whole book, all whilst he stood atop a bench (desk?), more visible than any other person in the scene, made him the centre of a number of tweets exclusively about his behaviour.
A Twitter user dubbed his actions as “throwing money in the face of the opposition”:
But he also became a fan favourite:
Perhaps Saeed warranted interest because of his history with controversies. Popularly known as the founder of PTI’s youth wing, Insaf Student Federation, PTI describes Saeed as the one who “aimed to fight for the survival of the hope he have (sic) been giving…..under the flag of ‘INSAF’ in the University of Peshawar.”
In 2015, he made headlines after the student federation of the University of Peshawar revealed that Saeed, who was a student of a BS (Hons) at the Department of Environmental Sciences from 2005 to 2009 did not pass his exams. To make up for it, Saeed allegedly sat for three exams in a record time of 30 minutes and passed. While Saeed denied all such allegations, the University closed the matter by giving him a clean chit.
Saeed has also been involved in violent conflicts since he was elected MNA in 2013. He is known to have been involved in a fist fight with PMLN MNA Javed Latif, after Latif used degrading remarks for Prime Minister Imran Khan in a National Assembly session in March 2017. After the proceedings, Latif was involved in an argument with Saeed and slapped him, receiving a punch in return. Not long after, Latif publicly used offensive words for Saeed’s family.
Latif issued an apology for his words after the matter was solved under the supervision of the National Assembly Jirga, but the scuffle left a lasting impact on the reputation of the leaders and policy makers of Pakistan:
Many labelled Latif’s behaviour as “Gutter Politics”:
Last year, Saeed was involved in yet another clash with a member of the National Assembly when PPP member Shazia Soomro hit him with her headphones after his anti-PPP speech:
However, Saeed is not the only lawmaker who has been involved in unconventional behaviour in formal settings. On June 10, PTI member and Special Assistant to Chief Minister Punjab Dr. Firdous Ashiq Awan slapped PPP MNA Qadir Mandokhel during a talk show recording.
When she was criticised for her behaviour, she responded by calling it ‘self defence’:
The list of unruly actions of Pakistan’s policy-makers and leaders is long. While they may become the cause of embarrassment and jokes for social media, they tell a worrying tale about the state of law-making in the country.