ISLAMABAD: A National Assembly standing committee will be meeting here on Monday (today) to take up the issue of notices issued by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and his family in connection with the Haj scam, Dawn has learnt.
The 22-member and powerful Standing Committee on Rules of Procedure and Privileges will be in session two days after President Asif Ali Zardari visited Multan to allay the concerns of Mr Gilani and his two sons.
The committee headed by Abdul Ghafoor Chaudhry of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) will take up “the question of privilege raised by MNA Abdul Qadir Gilani”, the son of Yousuf Raza Gilani, “against the notices issued by the FIA in connection with the Haj scandal” to him and his family, re-veals the agenda for the meeting.
The PPP-led ruling alliance last week assailed the FIA in the National Assembly after Abdul Qadir Gilani, while speaking on a point of order, had lodged a complaint against the “threatening notices from the FIA” to him and his father to appear before it in connection with the scam of 2010.
It was after fiery speeches by Qadir Gilani, who had even threatened to resign from the house along with his younger brother if no action was taken, and then by Federal Minister for Religious Affairs Syed Khurshid Shah that PPP’s Yasmeen Rehman, who was presiding over the session in the absence of both the speaker and the deputy speaker, referred the matter to the house privileges committee to settle the issue. She also asked the FIA director-general to appear before the committee.
An angry Khursheed Shah, who is also the chief whip of the PPP, had originally demanded that the FIA chief, Anwar Virk, should be asked to appear before the committee the next day or “be brought in handcuffs”, if he disobeyed.
Abdul Qadir Gilani, elected to the house in July from Multan after the Supreme Court unseated his father for contempt of court, had stated that he and his younger brother, Ali Musa Gilani, would resign as National Assembly members “if the house does not support” them and demanded withdrawal of a notice issued to his father reportedly by an FIA director in Multan.
Qadir Gilani told the house that 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 scam.
Mr Gilani said Interior Minister Rehman Malik, on a complaint made to him, told him that the 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”.
PML-Q’s Riaz Fatyana had assured his party’s support for the Gilani family.
The NA committee on privileges comprises a number of prominent and key figures like Defence Minister Syed Naveed Qamar, chairman of the Public Accounts Committee Nadeem Afzal Gondal, Nawab Yousuf Talpur, Chaudhry Barjees Tahir of the PML-N, Sheikh Waqas Akram and Raza Hayat Harraj of the PML-Q and Haider Abbas Rizvi of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM).
Besides Abdul Qadir Gilani, Syed Khursheed Shah and another PPP MNA from Multan, Naseem Akhtar Chaudhry, have specially been invited to attend the meeting.
Though the members of the Gilani family have so far not publicly spoken against the PPP leadership, sources in the PPP said that in private gatherings they are often found to be complaining that they are being ignored by President Zardari and Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf despite the fact that Yousuf Raza Gilani had sacrificed the office of the prime minister and faced disqualification only to defend his party boss by not writing letter to the Swiss authorities in line with the Supreme Court’s decision.