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ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) has raised objections to including Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif in Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi’s entourage currently in Istanbul, Turkey, to attend the extraordinary summit of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on the Palestinian issue.

The PTI chairman raised the issue first through a statement on social media which was then followed by a statement from the party’s central vice-president, Ali Zaidi, demanding that the prime minister be “summoned to parliament” for an explanation over the issue.

“What is Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif doing at OIC Summit in Turkey?” asked Imran Khan through his official Twitter account. Terming it a discrimination against the other provinces, Mr Khan questioned as to “why were the other CMs not taken along also?”

“PM Abbasi has proven that he is nothing but a puppet in the hands of the Sharif mafia. Shameful discrimination against smaller provinces,” Mr Khan tweeted.

Mr Zaidi said that the prime minister owed an explanation to parliament over the issue.

He alleged that the Sharif family members had even used the sensitive issue of the future of Al Quds Al Sharif for their personal and political gains.

“[CM] Shahbaz Sharif has reached Turkey to show his face [to the Muslim leaders] in the meeting that has been convened to discuss the issue of Al Quds Al Sharif,” he said.

“The prime minister should explain if he has decided to hand over the foreign affairs to the chief minister of Punjab,” said Mr Zaidi, adding that if Shahbaz Sharif could attend the OIC summit then “why were Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Chief Minister Pervez Khattak and the other two chief ministers not invited?”

Terming it a “shameful act”, Mr Zaidi asked National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq and Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani to take notice of the situation which, he described as “a slap on the face of parliament.”

In response, the information secretary of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Federal Minister for Climate Change Mushahidullah Khan simply said that the selection of people for inclusion in his entourage was the “prerogative” of the prime minister.

He added that Shahbaz Sharif had a good understanding of international issues and his participation in the OIC Summit would be fruitful for the country.

In a counterattack, the PML-N leader said that the PTI should first give an explanation as to under what capacity they were raising the issue.

He added that the PTI chief must also explain to the nation under what capacity he had presided over meetings regarding the KP government’s issues at his Banigala residence.

Published in Dawn, December 14th, 2017