ISLAMABAD: Opposition Leader in the National Assembly and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) president Shahbaz Sharif has said that solution to the present economic crisis lies in fresh and midterm elections.

“The economy has been hit by a disease. Only fresh elections can cure it, and not in-house change,” he said while talking to reporters at the Parliament House here on Saturday.

Mr Sharif said in line with his party’s decision he had decided to quit the chairmanship of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and the PML-N had already nominated Rana Tanveer Hussain in his place. He said the decision to seek appointment of a new PAC chairman had been made with consultation after he had expressed his inability to attend the committee meetings regularly due to his appearances before the National Accou­ntability Bureau and other engagements.

He said it was Nawaz Sharif’s decision and he was bound to follow it.

Firebrand PML-N MNA from Faisalabad Rana Sanaullah, who was present at the press conference, said the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) had been taken into confidence over their decision to replace Mr Sharif with Rana Tanveer. He further said they had also intimated National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaisar about their decision.

Opposition leader is ready to quit PAC chairmanship, indirectly endorses Maryam’s stance on charter of economy

Mr Sharif said they had decided to call Imran Khan a “sidelined prime minister” since he did not like the term “selected” to be used for him. Moreover, he explained that they would call him the “sidelined PM” as the “selected people” had taken all the affairs in their hands.

Replying to a question, Mr Sharif said a majority of the opposition members in the PPP and the PML-N had opposed the idea of en masse resignation from the assembly.

Responding to another question, he indirectly endorsed the stance taken by Maryam Nawaz, the daughter of PML supreme leader Nawaz Sharif, on the proposed charter of economy (CoE). He said after approval of the “anti-people budget” and rejection of all proposals of the opposition, there was no room left for agreeing on a CoE with the rulers.

Mr Sharif said the people would reel from the effect of the budget later in July.

The opposition leader, however, evaded questions regarding the statement of Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa in which he had blamed the previous government for the economic mess in the country.

Mr Sharif said the opposition members had decided to resign en masse from the parliamentary committee on election rigging as it had not been convened for four months.

Meanwhile, talking to reporters, lawmakers from the opposition parties slammed the resolution passed by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf members in the National Assembly seeking an apology from PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari for his remarks against the NA speaker, terming it undemocratic and accusing the ruling party of deliberately creating tension in the house.

PPP MNA Nafeesa Shah said the PPP chairman had just criticised the partial attitude of the speaker and recalled that the prime minister had previously cursed the parliament. She also criticised the ruling given by Munazza Hassan while chairing the NA session requiring those on production order to come and take part in proceedings, saying it was an unconstitutional ruling. “She is not an SHO,” Ms Shah remarked.

The PML-N’s Rana Sanaullah also condemned what he called the partial attitude of the speaker.

PTI’s reaction

Special Assistant to the PM on Political Affairs Naeemul Haq has said Mr Sharif’s call for mid-term elections “shows his naivety hence it cannot be taken seriously”.

“The passage of the federal budget despite the opposition’s shenanigans is an achievement of PM Imran Khan and his cabinet,” he said in a statement released by the PTI’s Central Media Department.

Mr Haq said, “Losers of general elections-2018 cannot afford another defeat.”

He said the behaviour demonstrated by the opposition during the National Assembly session “exposed its agenda of chaos and anarchy.”

“The joint opposition including Shahbaz Sharif blatantly threatened to impede the passage of the budget and the whole nation has witnessed how the opposition sought to disrupt parliamentary proceedings,” said the PTI leader.

He said both leading opposition parties had held parliament hostage for weeks over the issue of PAC chairmanship.

He said the opposition’s attempts to remove the Senate chairman and “hijack state institutions” would be resisted.

Published in Dawn, June 30th, 2019