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Speaker summons NA session on 23rd

November 20, 2018

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ISLAMABAD: National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser on Monday summoned the National Assembly session on Friday on the requisition of opposition members to discuss a number of issues, including the alleged political victimisation of the government’s opponents by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

The speaker, however, has not so far issued a production order for Leader of the Opposition and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) president Shahbaz Sharif for the session.

This is the second time that the speaker has to summon the assembly session on the requisition of the opposition since the arrest of Mr Sharif by NAB on Oct 5 in connection with investigations into the Ashiyana housing scam.

Earlier, the opposition had submitted the requisition notice hours after Mr Sharif’s arrest and the session was convened on Oct 17 for which Mr Sharif was especially brought to the Parliament House by NAB authorities from Lahore after issuance of his production order by the speaker.

Later, the speaker again issued the production order for Mr Sharif for a regular session of the assembly which continued from Oct 29 to Nov 9.

During both sessions, the house witnessed uproars on a number of occasions due to heated arguments and fiery speeches from both the treasury and the opposition members who had accused each other of indulging in corruption and protecting the corrupt.

In his two speeches on the floor of the assembly, Mr Sharif had lashed out at NAB, alleging that there was an “unholy alliance” between the bureau and the ruling PTI and complaining that the bureau had been active only against the PML-N people. He had also raised questions over a meeting between NAB Chairman retired Justice Javed Iqbal and Prime Minister Imran Khan, asking the former to explain under what capacity he had met the prime minister, who was also facing NAB investigations.

The opposition has once again included the issue of alleged political victimisation by NAB on top of its agenda, indicating that the bureau would again come under fire in the session starting from Friday.

The opposition parties, particularly the PML-N and the PPP, have been criticising NAB for the last over one year for its alleged “one-sided accountability”. The opposition parties allege that NAB, which had been created by former military dictator Gen Pervez Musharraf in 1999 through an ordinance, had always been used as a tool for carrying out political victimisation of the opponents.

On the last day of the NA session on Nov 9, the opposition had lodged a strong protest over TV interviews of Lahore NAB Director General Saleem Shahzad in which he had unfolded details of the investigation against Shahbaz Sharif in the Ashiyana housing scam.

The opposition members even submitted a “question of privilege” in the National Assembly and demanded immediate intervention of the house in the matter. The speaker did not first give weight to the opposition’s move, but later assured them that he would take up the matter with the NAB chairman.

The opposition members in their motion stated that the DG of NAB, Lahore, “with the consent of the chairman of NAB has appeared on TV programmes” and thus “conducted a media trial of opposition members, attempted to influence the so-called cases against members of the National Assembly, provided details of the matters that are sub judice, revealed details of confidential and secret NAB documents and maligned the reputation of the members of parliament”.

PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb expressed the hope that the speaker would issue the production order for Mr Sharif in accordance with the assembly rules like he did previously.

The opposition has submitted a five-point agenda for discussion during the requisitioned session. It includes discussion on the use of NAB as a tool for political coercion, government’s 100-day performance, economic situation in the country, progress of the CPEC and the law and order situation.

Ms Aurangzeb said the party had also decided to move an adjournment motion seeking discussion and explanation from the government over the martyrdom of SP Tahir Dawar in Afghanistan.

Tahir Dawar, who was chief of Peshawar police’s rural circle, was kidnapped in Islamabad on Oct 26, and his body was found later in the Afghan province of Nangarhar.

Published in Dawn, November 20th, 2018

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