Former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and PPP veteran Syed Naveed Qamar on Wednesday demanded that production orders be issued for incarcerated PML-N lawmaker Khawaja Saad Rafique, who was remanded to the National Accountability Bureau's (NAB) custody earlier in the day as part of a probe into a housing scheme scam.
"Accountability is being used to suppress the opposition," Abbasi claimed in his address in the parliament. "Shahbaz Sharif has been kept on remand or the last 64 days but a case could not be created. These things hurt the supremacy of the parliament."
"Prime Minister [Imran Khan] is also facing a case of wrongful use of a helicopter; he should also be arrested," the PML-N MNA demanded. "Aleem Khan, Aleema Khan, Pervez Elahi and Pervez Khattak should also be arrested.
"We are in favour of accountability; in fact, it can even start from our government. But then [true] accountability should be conducted. Opposition should not be suppressed through a media trial."
Abbasi urged the NA speaker to ensure the parliament's supremacy by issuing Rafique's production orders — a demand PPP's Qamar seconded.
"It looks like the next session [of the assembly] will have to be staged in Adiala," the PPP MNA said. "The government's aim is to malign the opposition; it wants to rule as a single party.
"Opposition members are jailed in dictatorships not democracies," Qamar added.
When Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry took centre stage to rebut the opposition's remarks, the house burst into a now familiar ruckus.
"The PML-N does not seem to have been raised right," the minister, notorious for his fiery parliamentary speeches, said as he responded to the uproar.
"They do not listen to anyone [but themselves]."
Deputy speaker Qasim Suri advised Chaudhry to take back his words, to which he cheekily replied: "all right then. Let me say that their upbringing has been good."
Continuing, the information minister pointed out that: "Chairman NAB was appointed by Shahid Khaqan Abbasi."
When PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb interjected, Chaudhry hit back saying: "You also have to go [to jail so] please be patient."
It is pertinent to mention here that NAB had on Tuesday "started examining" a complaint against Aurangzeb for allegedly possessing assets beyond her known sources of income.
Chaudhry made it clear that the government will not make the corruption watchdog stop its activities, noting that "if we do not hold stained people accountable then PTI has no right to govern."
"Free and fair accountability is being conducted for the first time in Pakistan," he added. "Let the NAB and courts do their jobs. Making the process of accountability controversial will not be beneficial."
Minister of State for Communications Murad Saeed, meanwhile, suggested a rather radical solution to the menace of corruption.
"A resolution should be passed that whoever has looted even a penny of this nation should be hanged on D-Chowk, and their assets be auctioned off."
The minister claimed that "seven PML-N members" — one of whom he said was present in the parliament — "have asked me for an NRO".
The cases will, however, continue, Saeed maintained.
The NA session was adjourned till Thursday.