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PPP rejects govt’s claim on $1.5bn Saudi aid

Updated March 19, 2014
Leader of Opposition, Syed Khursid Ahmed Shah.     — File photo
Leader of Opposition, Syed Khursid Ahmed Shah. — File photo

ISLAMABAD: The main opposition Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) has rejected the government’s explanation that it has received $1.5 billion from Saudi Arabia as a gift and alleged that the government is hiding facts from the nation.

“It is the biggest gift in the world’s history and should be included in the Guinness Book of World Records,” said the leader of opposition in the National Assembly, Syed Khurshid Ahmed Shah, while talking to reporters at his Parliament House chamber on Tuesday.

“One has to tell 100 lies to hide one,” he said and urged Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to tell the truth in a session of parliament.

Mr Shah said that contradictory statements coming from different government circles were creating doubts about the official claim that the money had been received as a gift. On one hand, he said, the government claimed to have received such a big amount as a gift and, on the other, a minister had stated that Saudi Arabia had released the money on personal surety of the prime minister. “Gifts are not given on someone’s surety.”

He criticised Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan for his “misleading and irresponsible statement” on the floor of the National Assembly that district and sessions judge Rafaqat Awan had been killed by his own guard during a terrorist attack on Islamabad courts earlier this month.

The PPP leader said that an inquiry report on the court attack suggested that the judge had been killed by terrorists and not the guard. He asked the minister to explain whom he had supported and served through his statement. “It is now up to him (the minister) to make a decision about himself over this act,” he said while indirectly calling for his resignation.

About the appointment of chief election commissioner (CEC), Mr Shah said that the government had accepted his proposal to appoint retired Justice Rana Bhagwandas and even a bill had been passed by the National Assembly. But due to some misunderstanding, the bill was referred to a committee when it was taken up by the Senate.

He said that he had asked the government to either wait for the committee’s report on the bill or propose three new names for the CEC office. He said that the government had yet to respond.