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PM Khan should come to the assembly so we can talk face to face: Bilawal

Updated January 17, 2019

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PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari speaks in the National Assembly on Thursday. — DawnNewsTV
PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari speaks in the National Assembly on Thursday. — DawnNewsTV

PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari started his speech in the National Assembly on Thursday by taking a jibe at Prime Minister Imran Khan, saying had the premier shown up at the parliament, he could have responded to his tweet earlier in the day face to face.

Bilawal was referring to a tweet by Prime Minister Khan in which the latter had asked why lawmakers were "so scared" of the Exit Control List (ECL) and why they were so keen to go abroad.

"I don't care if they remove my name [from the ECL] or not; it's not a favour to me," Bilawal asserted on the floor of the house.

He said that the apex court, in the presence of lawyers and senior journalists, had ordered to expunge his name from the ECL.

The PPP chairperson also talked about the apex court's recent verdict, rejecting the Sindh government's request for ownership of three major Karachi hospitals and ordering that the federal government continue to keep the ownership of the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre, the National Institute of Cardio Vascular Diseases, and the National Institute of Child Health.

"A full order has not yet come so I will not be able to speak on it in detail," he said, adding that if the apex court takes away these hospitals from Sindh, it will be impossible for him to explain to his people how this was not an attack on the 18th Amendment.

Addressing the treasury benches, he said, "You people have been asking for donations from all over the world; how would you arrange Rs14 billion to continue the facility of free treatment in NICVD?"

Further talking about the 18th Constitutional Amendment, he said that provinces cannot compromise on their economic rights.

"Mr Speaker, people from your province [Khyber Pakhtunkhwa] had been struggling for their rights. They got their rights, we will not let anyone deprive them of their rights," he said.

Bilawal was confident that the parliament will complete its tenure but in the meanwhile if democracy is attacked, he said the PPP will not compromise on it.

Earlier, the assembly resumed its session in the absence of around 70 MNAs, whose membership was suspended by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) a day earlier after they failed to submit details of their assets.

Take a look: Opposition leaders unite to form committee for 'joint strategy'

At the outset of the assembly proceedings, NA Speaker Asad Qaiser read out the statement pertaining to the suspension of lawmakers. He added that the suspended lawmakers could not take part in the business of the house as well as standing committees. NA Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhary, PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal and the president of his own faction of the Balochistan National Party (BNP), Sardar Akhtar Mengal, are among those 72 MNAs whose memberships have been suspended.

Leader of the Opposition Shahbaz Sharif in his speech clarified that he had walked out from the National Assembly on Monday in protest against the "insulting remarks" of PTI leader Faisal Vawda.

He alleged that instead of responding to a question raised [by the opposition benches], foul language was used.

Speaker Qaiser responded that he had talked to both the government and the opposition leaders about the issue, adding that both sides have reached an understanding that they will not insult any leader, and that leaders from the two sides will criticise each other in a civilised manner.

Extending an olive branch, Shahbaz Sharif said the opposition would come forward two steps if [members of the ruling parties] spoke in a positive manner.

Khawaja Saad Rafique of the PML-N said that the Charter of Democracy should be offered to all political parties.

He said that unfortunately the prime minister and all ministers were using foul language. "You will have to face the consequences, if you don't give up [the bad habit of calling names]," he said.

The PML-N leader warned the members of treasury benches that they will be on the opposition benches after a few months. "Get out of this stampede, if you want to establish an autonomous parliament," he said.

Rafique advised the government to adopt seriousness.

"First Yousuf Raza Gillani was expelled and then Nawaz Sharif. We don't want Imran Khan to meet the same fate. Prime ministers should not be expelled through such decisions. Lets sit together to put a full stop [to this process]."

The speaker adjourned the session till Friday [tomorrow] 10:30am.

PML-N's Rana Sanaullah raised the issue of slain SP Tahir Dawar and said that terrorists, with "their damaged back", abducted a police officer from the capital. "Did [someone] ask a question from the institutions responsible for it?" he asked.

State minister Ali Mohammad Khan responded saying it's the opposition's right to ask questions. He added that "we should also know what was happening in the past", how people managed to visit Murree without visa and why the name of Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav was avoided.

In the meantime, the speaker suspended the proceedings briefly and summoned chief whips of all parliamentary parties to his chamber.

'FBR issues notices to 3,121 individuals'

During the question and answer session, the finance ministry submitted a written reply in the assembly, revealing that the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) had issued notices to 3,121 individuals so far and in response 154 tax returns worth Rs21 billion have been submitted.

According to the written reply, the FBR has received some clues of thousands of unregistered cases of tax theft.