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PML-N threatens to disrupt National Assembly session

Updated December 13, 2018

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PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif. ─ File photo
PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif. ─ File photo

ISLAMABAD: The main opposition party — Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) — has warned that it will not allow the government to run the business of parliament if a production order of member of the National Assembly Khawaja Saad Rafique, who has been arrested by NAB, is not issued.

In its parliamentary party meeting chaired by PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif on Wednesday, the party condemned the arrest of Mr Rafique and his brother Khawaja Salman by the National Accountability Bureau in a housing scam case on Tuesday and accused the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government of committing the worst kind of political victimisation against the opposition through the bureau.

Claiming the last term of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif being one of the best eras in the country’s history, Shahbaz Sharif said his party was passing through “hard times”.

Wants issuance of MNA Saad Rafique’s production order

The PML-N chief, who is also in NAB custody in a housing scheme scam, also met his brother Nawaz Sharif and discussed with him the political situation in the country.

According to PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb, the meeting observed that the acts of “worst-ever political victimisation” by the “NAB-Niazi unholy matrimony” had turned the country into a “monarchy”.

“The meeting threatened that if Saad Rafique’s production orders are not issued, the PML-N would not let the parliament session continue,” she said.

According to the spokesperson, the meeting condemned “abductions and harassment” of PML-N leaders at the behest of the PTI for what it called revealing the truth about the government to the people. In this regard, the meeting pointed to the arrest of Saad Rafique and his brother, the pointless travel ban on Hamza Shahbaz and the initiation of an inquiry against Marriyum Aurangzeb.

“Such tactics won’t silence the party leaders and the opposition will fight this vengeful onslaught with strength, resilience and truth,” Shahbaz Sharif said.

The meeting pointed out how NAB was being used as a tool by the PTI government as PML-N leaders were being singled out and targeted without sound legal reasoning. “On the other hand proven corrupt people with known cases of mega corruption are treated as untouchables only because they are under the umbrella of the PTI government,” it alleged.

The meeting denounced these double standards of NAB and termed these actions an obliteration of national institutions.

It said Prime Minister Imran Khan was wanted in the helicopter misuse case, former secretary general of the PTI Jahangir Tareen was disqualified in a money laundering and corruption case, prime minister’s sister Aleema Khan was given tax exemption, PTI leader Aleem Khan was given the post of a senior minister instead of being arrested, and there was silence over the Malam Jabba case in which the prime minister’s principal secretary Azam Khan was allegedly involved, adding that many other such instances were testament to the “double standards, partisan actions and use of NAB as political tool in the worst abuse of power by the PTI”.

PAC chairman

Meanwhile, National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser chaired a meeting of opposition leaders and ministers to find ways to break the impasse over the nomination of Leader of the Opposition Shahbaz Sharif as chairman of the all-powerful Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

However, the meeting ended without any agreement between the opposition and the government. The two sides decided to remain engaged on the PAC chairmanship issue and the formation of standing committees of the NA.

After the meeting, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Mohammad Khan told the media that he was hopeful of an early solution to the problem.

Defence Minister Pervez Khattak and Finance Minister Asad Umar also represented the government in the meeting.

PML-N leader Rana Sanaullah said the opposition parties had stuck to their stance that Shahbaz Sharif should be named PAC chairman.

He said some other options were also discussed to end the deadlock, but did not provide details.

Pakistan Peoples Party leader Naveed Qamar said they had suggested to the government that a PTI nominee could chair PAC sessions in which audit paras concerning the previous Nawaz Sharif-led government were to be reviewed, to avoid a possible conflict of interest that could arise with Shahbaz Sharif presiding over such sittings.

He clarified that the opposition was not considering the name of MNAs other than Shahbaz Sharif to head the PAC.

In a separate meeting with the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal MNAs, Speaker Qaiser discussed the obstacles in the setting up of the standing committees.

The opposition parties claimed that Mr Qaiser, in a previous meeting with them, had accepted their demand for nominating Shahbaz Sharif as the PAC chairman, but later backtracked from his commitment due to resistance from his party members.

Published in Dawn, December 13th, 2018