ISLAMABAD: A day after Defence Minister Pervez Khattak adopted a defiant stance in the face of Prime Minister Imran Khan, another Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) leader assailed the government on the floor of the National Assembly for “ignoring” Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and demanded that top cabinet members’ — including the PM himself — be placed on the Exit Control List (ECL).
“Members who occupy the first three rows are the main culprits of the chaos in the country, so put their names on ECL and Pakistan will survive,” Noor Alam Khan said on Friday, pointing towards the front rows of the treasury benches, where Prime Minister Khan also sits as leader of the house.
Like the defence minister a day earlier, the ruling party MNA also raised the issue of the ban on new gas connections in KP, particularly the provincial capital of Peshawar.
“It seems that Peshawar is not a district of this country, but Mianwali and Swat are,” the MNA from NA-27 said comparing his home town to the prime minister’s constituency.
He said that his constituents were among those who had been deprived of basic facilities such as gas and electricity. “In our districts there is no gas, no electricity,” he said.
Peshawar MNA Noor Alam Khan calls for govt front-benchers, including PM, to be placed on ECL
Without naming anyone in the government, Mr Alam asked the rulers to step out of their luxurious cocoons and heed the miseries of the people. “Kindly get out of your aircraft, your land cruisers and BMWs and see the [miserable] condition of the people,” he said.
Meanwhile, the opposition claimed that the ruling PTI was facing disintegration within its ranks. “The process of collapse within PTI has started,” said Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Ahsan Iqbal in a TV interview on Friday.
The vocal PTI leader from Peshawar passed remarks similar to what Defence Minister Pervez Khattak had reportedly said in a meeting of the ruling alliance’s parliamentary party on Thursday when he said: “Am I not a Pakistani, am I only here to cast my vote?”
Interestingly, the defence minister had contended that the people of KP were not even given basic facilities and a ban had been imposed on new gas connections in the province. He had also warned that he would not vote for the PM if the problems of his province were not resolved. At this, PM Khan had reportedly asked Mr Khattak not to “blackmail” him.
On Friday, another PTI leader, Sher Akbar Khan from Buner, raised the issue of excessive billing and demanded withdrawal of fuel adjustment charges in Malakand Division. He said the former tribal areas and Malakand Division had been declared tax-free zones but people of these areas were compelled to several different taxes.
North Waziristan MNA Mohsin Dawar said the people of his constituency and many nearby areas were crying out for gas, but parliament was being fooled by the government over the quantum of gas given to KP.
He claimed that the gas produced in KP province was not being supplied to its residents, rather it was going to citizens in other parts of the country.
Bulldozing of bills
The opposition continued to criticise the government NA on Friday for what it called the “bulldozing” of key bills — the Finance Supplementary Bill 2022 and the State Bank of Pakistan (Amendment) Bill.
“[The PM] claimed that he will bring back $200 billion and will throw it in the face of [foreign] loan providers, but you have thrown the entire state bank in their face,” PML-N stalwart Khawaja Asif said.
He said that National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaisar had shown an extreme bias in the house in Thursday when important bills were being bulldozed. “We have not seen such an attitude by the speaker and deputy speaker in the 50 years of constitutional history,” he added.
Shazia Marri of PPP said the government had imposed Rs 350 billion in new taxes on the people, who were already crushed under the burden of an unprecedented price hike.
At this, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Mohammad Khan said the bills passed by the NA on Thursday had not been bulldozed as they had already been debated before the relevant standing committees.
Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri, who was presiding over the session, adjourned the house until 4 pm on Monday.
Published in Dawn, January 15th, 2022