ISLAMABAD: The opposition on Friday staged a walkout from the Senate after Leader of the House Syed Shibli Faraz’s scathing retort over allegations of the government’s indulgence in the worst-ever political victimisation and verbal attacks against Prime Minister Imran Khan by opposition senators.

Taking part in a discussion on ‘recent wave of alleged political victimisation and denial of fundamental rights to the members of opposition parties’, Mr Faraz said the so-called liberals recognising Maulana Fazlur Rahman as their leader should not cash in on the name of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and pledge allegiance to him [Maulana].

Amid the opposition’s uproar over the remarks, he went on to say: “You are going against your ideology.” Mr Faraz responded to the PPP’s protesting senators by saying that they had hurt the soul of the late Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.

He also lambasted JUI-F Senator Maulvi Faiz Mohammad for his outrageous remarks against PM Khan questioning his religious integrity and said nobody had the authority to issue decrees and use “religious card”.

Underlining the need for making a distinction between politics and crimes, he said everybody had a right to take part in politics, but that did not give them a licence to cause harm to national interest for the sake of personal benefits, amassing wealth through illegal means and ruining institutions.

He said the National Accountability Bureau ordinance, which the PPP now called a black law, had been introduced during the tenure of military ruler retired Gen Pervez Musharraf.

Mr Faraz chided both the PML-N and PPP for accusing each other of corruption in the past and said both of them were in fact right. “What you did was pure crude corruption,” he remarked.

He said none of the cases being faced by the PML-N and PPP leaders had been initiated by the PTI. He said the ruling party was ready to pay political cost of its decision not to spare corrupt people.

He also referred to the resolution of the famous Karkey (a Turkish ship-mounted power plant) dispute saving Pakistan $1.2 billion penalty imposed by the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes, saying the PTI government had inherited this dispute.

Leader of the Opposition in the Senate Raja Zafarul Haq observed that Mr Faraz’s speech had vitiated the atmosphere. He sought an apology from Shibli Faraz and said the opposition would stage a walkout if it was not done.

But, instead of apologising, Mr Faraz said what could be more inflammatory and dangerous than this. “I have not said anything wrong and will not take my words back.”

At this, the opposition members staged a walkout from the house. Later quorum was pointed out and quorum bells were rung for five minutes. Even after that, the House was not found in order and was adjourned to meet again on Monday at 3.30pm.

Earlier, taking part in the discussion, opposition members criticised the government for what they called worst kind of witch-hunt. They said all this was being done in the name of accountability which was one-sided.

Published in Dawn, November 9th, 2019