ISLAMABAD: The main opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) plans to move a motion in the National Assembly seeking formation of a parliamentary committee to probe the recent controversy over some leaked audio and video clips involving National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Chairman retired Justice Javed Iqbal when the lower house of the Parliament will meet after a two-day recess here on Monday (today).
Sources in the PML-N told Dawn that the party would take the other opposition parties, including the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), into confidence before start of the session, as the matter could be decided through a vote after its expected opposition by the ruling coalition headed by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI).
Talking to Dawn, PML-N’s information secretary Marriyum Aurangzeb said that since the National Assembly Secretariat had already issued the agenda for the sitting, their members would first try to force the speaker to allow them to move a motion seeking suspension of the rules to allow presentation of the motion for formation of the parliamentary committee.
Govt likely to oppose, PPP undecided about move
Ms Aurangzeb said that newly-appointed parliamentary leader of the PML-N Khawaja Mohammad Asif would move the motion, if allowed by Speaker Asad Qaiser. She further said that Mr Asif would also write a formal letter to the speaker, asking him to form the committee on the NAB chairman’s issue.
When both the PPP and the PML-N are demanding a proper investigation into the matter, there is a difference over the mode of investigations. The PML-N wants a parliamentary committee for this purpose whereas the PPP believes that parliamentary probe may not be fruitful as the issue will require the use of “forensic” and other techniques to know the facts behind the release of the controversial audio and video clips of the NAB chairman in which he had allegedly been shown talking to a woman on some personal and objectionable matters.
The two parties also differ on the demand for resignation of the NAB chairman. The PPP wants the NAB chairman to step down from his position, at least until completion of an inquiry, whereas the PML-N has not officially made any such demand.
‘Clear and sure’
When contacted, PPP’s parliamentary leader in the National Assembly Syed Naveed Qamar said that so far his party had not decided its strategy over the PML-N’s planned move to seek formation of a parliamentary committee on the NAB chairman controversy. He said the leaders of the two parties were expected to meet before start of the sitting in which they would discuss the matter thoroughly.
In response to a question, Mr Qamar said the PPP obviously could not support the government in the house, if it opposed the PML-N’s motion. However, he said, though they “conceptually” supported the PML-N’s idea, they had not yet devised their own strategy.
“We will discuss it and decide,” he added.
Mr Qamar said the PPP was “clear and sure” that the ruling PTI was behind the release of the controversial audio and video tapes of the NAB chairman as it wanted to pressurise him.
The demand for formation of a parliamentary committee on the controversial audio and video tapes had been made by PML-N’s vice-president and former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi during a news conference in Islamabad on Friday.
In his news conference, Mr Abbasi had announced that the party wanted the parliamentary probe to uncover the truth behind accusations against Prime Minister Imran Khan and to provide the NAB chairman a fair chance to defend himself.
The leaked tape, which went viral on social media and was broadcast by a private TV channel last week before being refuted by the NAB office, intensified the recent controversy over the NAB chairman’s recent interview in which he had claimed he was under severe pressure from government circles.
Mr Abbasi had stated that they wanted justice for all and considered the NAB chairman innocent until proven guilty. “Therefore, instead of a media trial, he should be given a chance to clarify his position at the highest forum of the country, which is the parliament,” Mr Abbasi had stated.
He had said that initially PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif had posted a tweet to ignore the leaked audio calling it a personal matter of the NAB chairman. But then “serious links” surfaced that indicated there could be threats to the NAB chairman, he said, alleging that the audio and video footage was first broadcast on a TV channel, owned by a close friend and one of the advisers to PM Khan.
While defending the government, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Information Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan in a quick response to the ex-PM’s demand for the parliamentary body to probe the matter had called the audio and the video “fake and concocted”. She had termed it the work of an “organised gang” of criminals.
Meanwhile, the National Assembly Secretariat issued a five-point agenda for today’s sitting which includes a motion authorising the speaker to nominate 15 members of the house to include them in the Parliamentary Committee to Protect Minorities from Forced Conversions.
The agenda also includes a calling attention notice of the PML-N members regarding proposed 51 per cent cut in the budget of the Higher Education Commission by the federal government.
Published in Dawn, May 27th, 2019