ISLAMABAD: Lashing out at the government for its internal and external policies, the opposition Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) has asked the former to give an explanation over the Financial Action Task Force issue and tell parliament as to what more is needed to be done to bring the country out of the FATF grey list.

“Come and explain what more is required [to be done]. We will help. But at least come to parliament and speak....do not disgrace parliament, at least,” said PPP’s parliamentary leader in the Senate Sherry Rehman while speaking at a news conference with other party senators, including former Senate chairman Raza Rabbani and Moula Bux Chandio.

Ms Rehman, who had served as the country’s ambassador in the United States, alleged that the government remained unmoved on the FATF issue despite the fact that the global money laundering and terror financing watchdog had sent notices to Pakistan in the beginning of 2018. After sitting idle for nearly two years, she said, the government prepared legislations in haste and bulldozed parliament to get them passed overnight.

Sherry Rehman slams government for not convening joint session of parliament on Kashmir

“Do not draft legislations in haste. Do not cut and paste. We spent three months working day and night on FATF laws with our lawyers and other experts for the greater good of our country and the people,” she said, adding that the PPP knew how to get it done as they had got Pakistan removed from the grey list previously, “but this government is all about theatrics”.

Ms Rehman said it was shocking to see the government ministers celebrating despite the fact that the country was still in the grey list and by doing so they were making the people of Pakistan and parliament fool.

She also sought an explanation from the ministers who used the FATF laws and declared that Pakistan had been exposed due to the opposition. She said the government’s focus was mainly on the opposition’s witch-hunting and it ignored other serious issues.

The PPP senator also castigated the government for not convening a joint session of parliament on the Kashmir issue on Tuesday which was observed by the nation as black day. “We were expecting that a special session of parliament would be held to express solidarity with our Kashmiri brothers and sisters on the black day, but shockingly this government did not think that it is important to have one,” she said, alleging that an attempt was being made to make parliament completely irrelevant.

When asked what would be the usefulness of the joint sitting when the opposition had been making noisy protests in the assembly for the past one week, Ms Rehman said she could say on behalf of the whole opposition that had the government convened a joint session of parliament on Kashmir, they would have displayed a “responsible conduct”.

She recalled how the previous two governments of the PPP and the PML-N convened joint sittings on issues of national importance and security despite having differences with each other. She alleged that the rulers were using parliament “just for their own ulterior motives”.

“Our parliament is being insulted and bulldozed by this tabahi sarkar (destructive regime),” she said, adding that when the government wanted to pass “draconian laws” in the disguise of FATF conditions, it called the regular joint session. “Then why not for Kashmir? It would have given a strong message to the world,” she added.

“Instead of addressing serious issues like inflation, high food prices, new polio cases, circular debt, loadshedding, gas shortage and increased medicine prices, the taqseem sarkar (divisive government) is keeping people distracted by their circus and engaging them in a war of narratives,” she said.

Expressing concern over price hike and shortage of food commodities, Ms Rehman warned that the country could face a severe wheat crisis in December. She said Prime Minister Imran Khan was clueless about the wheat situation in the country as previously he had stated that wheat had been exported and now he was angry over delay in its import. On the other hand, she added, the authorities were claiming to have sufficient stocks.

“Who is running the country?” she asked, calling the present government namaloom sarkaar (unidentified regime). She termed the price hike the country’s biggest and real issue and criticised the government over its plan to use the Corona Relief Tiger Force for this purpose. “Tiger Force cannot do it. What is their mandate? Will you unleash them onto the public?” she asked, adding that “inflation cannot be eliminated through the use of force and threats”.

Published in Dawn, October 28th, 2020