ISLAMABAD: The government-opposition squabble over the recent wheat and sugar crises continued in the National Assembly on Monday with Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi informing the house that the final report of the investigation committee formed by Prime Minister Imran Khan to probe the shortage of the two commodities would be presented during the current week.
The minister advised opposition lawmakers to wait for the final report before pressing for their demand for formation of a parliamentary committee to probe the matter, saying the inquiry report might address all of their concerns in this regard.
Mr Qureshi, who is also the vice chairman of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), was responding to a point of order raised by parliamentary leader of opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Khawaja Asif, who had accused the government of hiding facts from the nation.
The minister said that the committee had submitted its initial report to the prime minister, who had returned the report asking some more questions.
Opposition urged to be patient and not seek formation of a parliamentary panel on the issue
“Hopefully the committee’s report will be received during the current week. If the opposition’s concerns are not addressed in the report, then their demand for a parliamentary committee can be considered,” the minister added.
The passage of four government bills and a unanimous resolution condemning anti-Muslim violence in India were other highlights of the opening day proceedings of the National Assembly session which witnessed an exchange of arguments between PML-N members and Religious Affairs Minister Noorul Haq Qadri over the issue of the “deletion of the oath of finality of Prophethood of Hazrat Muhammad (peace be upon him) from Haj application forms”.
Speaking on a point of order soon after the Question Hour, Mr Asif reiterated the opposition’s demand for the formation of a parliamentary committee to identify the influential people involved in the shortage of wheat and sugar crises in the country. The PML-N leader said that the parliament was the most appropriate forum for discussing issues directly related to the masses.
He said there was no need to “outsource” the investigation to other institutions like Federal Investigation Agency and Intelligence Bureau as it was the domain of the parliament.
Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry objected to the speaker’s act of giving floor to Mr Asif out of turn and asked the opposition to give the date for the return of Opposition Leader Shahbaz Sharif from London. He said if Mr Sharif was not coming back, then they should decide about a new opposition leader, which was an important parliamentary office.
Mr Asif, who is known for targeting opponents through hard-hitting speeches, showed restraint on the matter and did not respond to the minister when Mr Chaudhry said he knew Khawaja Asif wanted to become the opposition leader.
Other PML-N lawmakers also hit out at the government over the Khatm-i-Nubuwat issue when the religious affairs minister informed the house that confusion on the issue was created when the 14-page Haj form was simplified into two parts. He said the form was still containing oath of the Finality of the Prophethood.
The minister, while responding to a calling attention notice moved by the PML-N members on the issue, informed the house that it was Prime Minister Imran Khan who had first taken the notice and expressed concerns over reports about the deletion of the oath from Haj forms. However, he said, the prime minister was informed about the issue in detail that no change had been made in the form.
PML-N leaders Khurram Dastagir Khan and Rana Tanveer expressed dissatisfaction over the minister’s response and called for referring the matter to the standing committee concerned to probe the matter and find out the person who had made changes in the Haj forms.
Speaker Asad Qaiser referred the matter to the committee when the minister also supported the proposal.
Later, the National Assembly passed four government bills and witnessed presentation of an ordinance.
Published in Dawn, March 10th, 2020