LAHORE: Main opposition parties on Monday declared that they would attend the National Action Plan (NAP) briefing only if it was held in the parliament and delivered by Prime Minister Imran Khan.
The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA) attended the meeting at the PML-N’s secretariat in Model Town to discuss political, economic, internal and external situations. It was presided over by PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif.
The MMA’s Maulana Asadur Rehman and senior PML-N leaders attended the meeting. The PPP’s Khursheed Shah made his presence through a video link.
“The (NAP) is a culmination of exhaustive efforts of all political parties that see its implementation as a key measure in national interest. The NAP briefing should be held in the parliament and not for at ‘any select group’ as its every member is a stakeholder in this process. The prime minister should give the NAP briefing,” said a joint statement issued after the meeting.
Expresses alarm at the rate unemployment and inflation are increasing
When asked whether the opposition would boycott the NAP briefing if it was held at any other place and not given by PM Khan, PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb told Dawn that the opposition would only attend the NAP briefing if it was held in parliament.
Earlier, the government had cancelled its scheduled March 28 briefing on the NAP to the heads of the parliamentary parties on the opposition’s boycott threat. Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif had also written to Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi asking him to brief the ‘whole parliament’ instead of convening a meeting of ‘selected leaders.’
“The collective opposition believes in inclusive decision-making and promoting a sense of collective ownership of all decisions taken in the national interest. It is, therefore, suggested that your proposed briefing be given to the National Assembly so that the country can benefit from the collective wisdom of all parliamentarians instead of selected parliamentary leaders,” Mr Sharif said.
The issue of giving extension to military courts, set up under NAP to hold trial of civilians charged with terrorism, whose two-year term expired on March 30, also came under discussion the opposition’s meeting. It is said that the purpose of briefing on NAP is aimed at seeking the opposition’s consent for giving second extension to the military courts.
Briefing the reporters after the meeting former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said the government should tell the parliament why it needed extension to the military courts. “The military courts are set up not under an ordinary law. These are formed under compulsion,” he said.
Mr Abbasi asked the prime minister to tell the name(s) of those seeking an NRO. “We have neither sought NRO from Imran Khan nor is he in a position to give it to anyone. One day Imran Khan will seek NRO,” he predicted.
According to Mr Abbasi, the National Assembly speaker said he was facing immense pressure for not convening the session and issuing production order (for jailed MNAs). “We will requisition the NA session if the government does not call it,” he declared. The joint opposition termed the government’s increase in the petroleum prices “an atrocious assault on the people”.
“We will launch a strong protest in the parliament against the hike in petroleum prices,” it said. The meeting also expressed alarm at the rapidly growing unemployment and inflation in the country while the national growth and revenues were plummeting. The participants termed the ongoing trend toxic and fatal for the country.
The meeting expressed deep concern over prediction of long hours of electricity loadshedding while the national grid had ample capacity to fulfil the requirements.
“The PML-N government had added over 12,000MW of electricity to the national grid, but the PTI’s incompetent government had created a false shortage and power crisis that will cause havoc on domestic and commercial users of electricity in scorching summer. The government has neither a policy nor the vision to come up with any solution to the economic crisis.”
The joint opposition said the PTI had come to power through a rigged election as there was a big question mark on the legitimacy of its mandate. “The opposition has unanimously decided to play a role in exposing the rigging. A meeting of the parliamentary committee will be held in connection with in-depth investigation of rigging in the 2018 elections. Imran Khan had backtracked from his promise of transparent investigation of any constituency but the joint opposition will not let him off the hook,” it said.
The meeting also chided the government for violation of rules and the Constitution on the appointment of the members of Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).
A special committee under Khursheed Shah of the PPP was formed to nominate the members of ECP from Balochistan and Sindh.
Published in Dawn, April 2nd, 2019