President Alvi comes under fire in Senate for ‘violating oath’

Published January 22, 2022
President Dr Arif Alvi addresses the End TB Summit in Islamabad on Tuesday. — PID/File
President Dr Arif Alvi addresses the End TB Summit in Islamabad on Tuesday. — PID/File

ISLAMABAD: Opposition senators came down hard on President Arif Alvi on Friday for what they termed misuse of his office, with a veteran senator from Balochistan calling on the opposition to seriously consider filing a disqualification reference against the head of state.

During discussion on President Arif Alvi’s address to the joint sitting of parliament, Senator Tahir Bizenjo recalled that under the Constitution, the president is supposed to be impartial. He regretted, however, that when Dr Alvi spoke in parliament, he was speaking as a member of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI).

“That is why there was nothing in his speech except praises for the government,” he remarked.

The National Party leader pointed out that in its judgement in the Qazi Faez Isa case, the apex court had declared that the presidential reference against the Supreme Court judge was motivated by mala fide intentions.

“Why are you so allergic to an esteemed judge from Balochistan, Justice Qazi Faez Isa,” he asked, rhetorically.

Tahir Bizenjo asks president why he is ‘allergic’ to Justice Isa; senators seek answers to contradiction on Lahore attack

He also alleged that the Sindh Governor House was being used to conduct the president’s personal business, which was a violation of his oath.

He called on the president to exercise his wisdom, in view of the dictates of the Constitution. “He should act like the president of the country, not the president of PTI,” he remarked.

In her speech, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Senator Quratulain Marri accused the president of using a state institution for the inauguration of his son’s dental clinic, claiming that President Alvi’s son was dealing with American companies while sitting in the Governor House.

She also accused the PTI of trying to conceal its foreign funding.

Rejecting the claims made by a PTI lawmaker about the country’s economic health, she pointed out that Pakistan had the third highest rate of inflation in the world, which currently stood at 12.3 per cent.

Mounting a defence of his government, PTI Senator Faisal Javed maintained that the economy was on-track and a growth rate of 5.37pc had been recorded in three years. He claimed that the growth seen before the PTI took office was artificial, pointing out that the current account deficit stood at $20 billion in 2018.

When a lawmaker from the opposition questioned his claim, an angry Faisal Javed shot back: “Should I tell you how much money went into the account of a peon?”

Citing a Federal Investigation Agency report regarding money laundering by the Sharif family, he claimed that billions went into 28 bank accounts of low-paid employees, which included Rs 3.75bn that went into the account of a peon at Ramzan Sugar Mills.

Attacking the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and the PPP in one fell swoop, Senator Javed said their leaders purchased the Surrey mansion and Avenfield apartments when they had the opportunity.

Wave of terror

Earlier, opposition senators expressed alarm over the fresh wave of terrorism that had gripped the country and feared that the government may not be able to handle it, the same way it had failed to curb spiraling inflation.

PPP stalwart and former Senate chairman Raza Rabbani said the alarming increase in these incidents prove that the government’s policy of appeasing the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan and negotiating with them was wrong.

At the outset of Friday’s proceedings, Senator Rabbani drew the attention of the house towards the increase in incidents of terrorism and attacks on the security forces in the merged districts of erstwhile Fata.

He referred to the terrorist attack in Islamabad on Jan 18 and Thursday’s bombing in Lahore, noting that while responsibility for the attack was claimed by Baloch separatists, the interior minister had blamed the attack on the TTP, indicating a contradiction. He urged the chair to call the minister to clear up the matter .

Opposition leader Yusuf Raza Gilani also fully supported Senator Rabbani’s stance, saying that even the military personnel were not safe from these attacks.

Railways Minister Azam Swati, who rose to respond to this point, agreed that the interior minister should come to the house and explain the situation as the government was accountable to parliament.

JI Senator Mushtaq Ahmad pointed out that the minister for interior had recently revealed the existence of terrorists’ sleeper cells and asked that Sheikh Rashid be asked to explain what plan the intelligence and security agencies to counter this.

On the demand of the opposition, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid made a brief appearance and said that there were special motives behind the attack on police officers in Islamabad, adding that the government was investigating the incident.

On Friday, three ordinances were also laid before the house. These included the National Rehmatul-lil-Alameen Authority Ordinance 2021, the Islamabad Capital Territory Local Government Ordinance 2021 and the Pakistan Nursing Council (Emergency Management) Ordinance 2021.

Published in Dawn, January 22nd, 2022

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