ISLAMABAD: The PPP-led ruling alliance burst into a rare outrage at a government agency after a son of former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani complained of threatening notices from FIA to him and his father to appear before it in connection with the so-called Haj scandal of 2010.
After some fiery speeches by Abdul Qadir Gilani, the elder son of the former prime minister, who threatened to resign from the house along with his younger brother if no action was taken, and two federal ministers, the chair gave the house privileges committee up to 48 hours to settle the issue with orders to the FIA director-general to appear before the committee.
PPP chief whip and Religious Affairs Minister Khursheed Ahmed Shah had originally demanded that the FIA chief, Anwar Virk, appear before the committee by 10am on Thursday — or “be brought in handcuffs” if he disobeyed — but after some apparent rethinking, PPP lawmaker Yasmeen Rehman, who chaired the house in the absence of both the speaker and deputy speaker, asked the Standing Committee on Rules of Procedure and Privileges to settle the matter within 48 hours.
There was no objection to the move from opposition benches except for a PML-N lawmaker from Punjab, Rana Tanvir Hussain, criticising what he called Mr Shah’s “sentimental” talk and threat to handcuff the official and a senior PML-N member, Sardar Mehtab Ahmed Khan, protesting against the mention of his party chief Nawaz Sharif by Information and Broadcasting Minister Qamar Zaman Kairi in reference to a recent ruling by the Supreme Court for an FIA investigation of distribution of funds among opposition politicians by state agencies for defeating the PPP in the 1990 election.
Abdul Qadir Gilani, elected to the house in July from Multan after the Supreme Court unseated his father for contempt of court, created a stir in the house when he said he and his younger brother, Ali Musa, seated next to him, would resign as National Assembly members “if the house does not support us today” and demanded withdrawal of a notice issued to the former prime minister reportedly by an FIA director in Multan.
“Should be withdrawn”, went up a chant from PPP lawmakers, who also repeatedly thumped their desks to demonstrate support for the junior Gilani, who told the house he was also receiving FIA notices for the past 10 days to appear on the pain of “severe action” although he said he had been exonerated by the Supreme Court of an allegation levelled and later retracted by a PML-N MNA, Imran Ahmad Shah, that he had smuggled a bullet-proof car in connection with the Haj scandal of alleged wrongdoing in arranging accommodation in Saudi Arabia for Pakistani pilgrims.
Mr Gilani said Interior Minister Rehman Malik, on a complaint made to him, told him that FIA was “out of my control”, and added: “If the FIA continues to harass us then either the minister should resign or we will leave the house.”
Complaining of some suspicious activity of unidentified people near his family’s house in Lahore, Mr Gilani said “they were planning to kidnap or attack anyone of us”.
And he asked “at whose behest” all this was being done against the Gilani family?
“This is regrettable and shameful,” an apparently enraged Khursheed Shah said about what he called the situation faced by a man who had been prime minister for nearly four and a half years, led the house in restoring the 1973 Constitution, released judges (detained by former president Pervez Musharraf), gave independence to the judiciary, “buried vindictive politics” and gave opposition a high status.
“The heads of all us in this house are down with shame,” the minister said as he called for summoning the FIA chief with a vow that “we will not let this big ‘masti’ (wantonness) of bureaucracy to go on”.
Before adjourning until 11am on Thursday, the house passed a bill, piloted by Law and Justice Minister Farooq H. Naek, for amending the Pakistan Penal Code to criminalise illegal trading in prize bonds, which came to the house for the second time after the Senate made some amendments to the draft first passed by the lower house in 2010.