ISLAMABAD: Members of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) continued their war of words on the floor of the National Assembly on Wednesday as the lower house of parliament witnessed another unproductive day.
The members from both sides of the aisle, during their fiery speeches, called each other’s leadership “thieves” and “robbers” and even passed some personal remarks during over three-hour proceedings when Deputy Speaker Qasim Khan Suri gave a free hand to the legislators to speak on any matter.
An unnecessarily aggressive response from Minister for Water Resources Faisal Vawda to a calling-attention notice moved by Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) members regarding “non-provision of due share of water to Sindh according to 1991 Accord” soon after the Question Hour vitiated the otherwise peaceful environment of the house, which was due to resume a stalled debate on the “existing economic conditions” of the country.
Minister accuses PML-N govt of stealing Sindh’s water; ex-PM Abbasi demands formation of special committee to probe charges
Sharing his concerns with the PPP members, Mr Vawda alleged that the previous PML-N government had deprived Sindh of its water share by shutting telemeters. According to him, telemeters installed to “check water theft” are still closed to date and he has been making every effort to resolve the issue of water scarcity in Sindh.
“Water was stolen. During the Nawaz Sharif government, telemeters were deliberately shut on verbal orders to deprive other provinces of their water share. Besides committing financial corruption, they also stole water,” Mr Vawda alleged amid a noisy protest by the PML-N members.
“I have caught the theft committed by the PML-N. Sindh was facing great excesses,” the minister said without caring for the opposition’s protest and alleged that the province was getting 38 per cent less water.
“They not only looted the country, they also stole water,” he said, adding that they “know the thieves.”
Mr Vawda said he had some reservations over the 18th Amendment due to which his hands were tied. Pointing towards PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, the minister said he would also take up the matter with the former.
Without naming but in an apparent reference to the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, the minister said Karachi was also facing water shortage due to illegal hydrants installed when the “self-proclaimed custodians of the city” were in total control.
PML-N leader and former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi responded by saying that the minister had levelled “a very serious allegation” against his government. He asked the deputy speaker to either refer the matter to the standing committee concerned or form a special committee to prove this charge and present its report within one month. “Form a committee to find out who had issued verbal orders to shut telemeters,” he said.
Mr Abbasi lashed out at the minister for constantly calling the opposition members “thieves” and warned if he continued to do so he would get the response in the same coin. He said those who had acquired power through “stolen elections” had no right to call others “thieves.” He said the “certified thieves” were sitting in the government.
Upon this, Mr Vawda took the floor again, saying there was no need for constituting a committee as he would present all the record in the house.
“During the PML-N’s tenure, every institution was robbed,” he went on saying, creating a rumpus in the house.
The deputy speaker then gave the floor to another fiery speaker and Minister of State for Communications Murad Saeed only to aggravate the situation. The young minister said if the PML-N people had not committed corruption why its leaders and the entire Sharif family were facing inquiries before the National Accountability Bureau.
Then it was PML-N’s Rana Sanaullah’s turn to respond to the treasury benches. He alleged that the ministers were making a hue and cry only to hide their incompetence as they could not defend the government due to its “failure” on all fronts, including economy and law and order.
He also made some personal attacks on Prime Minister Imran Khan, accusing him of having the habit of levelling false allegations against the opponents.
“Why is NAB not arresting Aleem Khan, Pervez Khattak and Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi as all of them are also facing inquiries?” he asked and condemned the government for arresting Leader of the Opposition Shahbaz Sharif. He also highlighted a number of alleged corruption cases in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa during the previous PTI government.
The deputy speaker adjourned the sitting till Thursday evening.
Published in Dawn, November 8th, 2018