ISLAMABAD: Alleging that the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) was behind the protest demonstration outside the London residence of Nawaz Sharif, parliamentary leader of the main opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Khawaja Asif on Monday threatened to end “cooperation” with the government inside the parliament over important legislations and other national issues.
Speaking on a point of order in the National Assembly, the firebrand lawmaker from Sialkot regretted that on the one hand, the treasury members were doing consultations with the opposition to seek cooperation to run the assembly proceedings smoothly and on the other, the political atmosphere was being “vitiated” through “attack on Nawaz Sharif’s house”.
However, two federal ministers belonging to the PTI not only distanced the party from the London protest, but also “condemned” it and stated that their party did not “encourage” such activities.
Federal Minister for Communications Murad Saeed and Economic Affairs Minister Hammad Azhar, while responding to speeches of opposition members, once again targeted the Sharif family for their alleged corruption and asked the PML-N leadership to return to the country and face court cases.
PTI distances itself from London protest; treasury, opposition continue trading allegations in NA
PML-N’s Khawaja Asif, who returned from the UK, stated that the treasury members had so far held five or six meetings with the opposition to seek its cooperation to run the house smoothly and carry out important legislations.
“Is this the way of cooperation?” he asked, adding: “This exercise in futility cannot be continued.”
The PML-N leader, who was a part of the party delegation that visited the UK to consult the party leadership over important national issues, including the proposed legislation on the army chief’s extension, stated that the government and the opposition had been negotiating on important issues, like appointments in the Election Commission of Pakistan and some important legislations.
“We will not be part of it and I hope that other [opposition] parties will also do the same,” he added.
Khawaja Asif also ridiculed the government over the handling of the case of the extension of Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa in the Supreme Court.
“What this government party did in the court for three days? They can befool their own people, but not the whole Pakistani nation,” the PML-N leader said.
“There is a method to this madness,” he said, while mocking the government for not being able to make a proper notification for the army chief’s extension.
“Don’t take violence in politics to a point of no return,” the PML-N leader said, warning that “the whole system can be wrapped up”, if the opposition also asked workers in London or in the country to attack the houses of the opponents.
“The government has taken the acrimony and tension to such an extent that now the sanctity of the four walls is not protected,” he said.
The PML-N leader warned if the “sanctity of Nawaz Sharif’s house” was violated again, they would also “retaliate”.
“We will pay back in the same coin. We will chase you,” he said.
PPP leader Raja Pervez Ashraf endorsed Khawaja Asif’s viewpoint, saying “it is impossible that you attack Nawaz Sharif’s house and we will do cooperation with you”.
“If decency, respect and tolerance will not be there in politics then there will be total destruction. And tomorrow, no one will be safe,” Mr Ashraf said, adding: “If you will attack someone’s house, then you cannot live safely in your house.”
“What will you do if tomorrow Prime Minister Imran Khan faces a similar protest during his visit to London?” he asked.
Mr Ashraf urged the prime minister to order investigation as to who had organised this protest. He also asked the communication minister to condemn the incident and apologise to the PML-N and Nawaz Sharif.
Taking the floor, the hot-headed communications minister from Swat “condemned” the incident, saying that an organisation named Pakistan Solidarity Front had organised the protest. After this, he started blasting the Sharif family and Khawaja Asif for their alleged corruption and involvement in money laundering, saying that Nawaz Sharif was staying in the same house which he had previously disowned. He said the protesters were asking the same question as to how the Sharif family had made these properties.
He said Khawaja Asif would have to answer to the nation how did he obtain Iqama (work permit) when he was a defence minister.
PML-N MNA Javed Latif also lashed out at the government over reports that NAB had launched an inquiry against him.
“How is Imran Khan maintaining a 300-kanal house. What is his source of income?” the MNA said, predicting that the nation would not tolerate this government for more than two months. Former railways minister Saad Rafique also attended the sitting for some time after issuance of his production order by the speaker.
Published in Dawn, December 10th, 2019