Lawmakers assail PTI in one-sided National Assembly proceedings

Published April 22, 2022
A view of the National Assembly during April 21 session. — Photo courtesy NA Twitter
A view of the National Assembly during April 21 session. — Photo courtesy NA Twitter

ISLAMABAD: The lawmakers on Thursday continued to assail the formerly ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and its chairman Imran Khan during a one-sided proceeding of the National Assembly as after the oath-taking of newly-elected Deputy Speaker Zahid Akram Durrani, the members were once again allowed to deliver speeches on points of order since there was nothing on the agenda.

Almost all the members, including the PTI dissidents, now sitting on the opposition benches, who were given the floor in their speeches first felicitated Mr Durrani of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F) over his unopposed election and then harshly criticised the previous government’s economic and foreign policies and called for the trial of former prime minister Imran Khan and others on charges of defamation and abrogation of the country’s constitution.

Some of the members also urged the new government to immediately provide relief to the masses in the wake of unprecedented price-hike, stating that the people had very high expectations from the new set-up.

The attack on the previous rulers was launched by Dr Nisar Cheema of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N). The MNA from Gujranwala regretted that after demonstrating a “shameful” conduct in the National Assembly for more than three years, the PTI people had now launched a campaign in the country declaring their opponents as “anti-state and traitors”.

Zahid Durrani takes oath as deputy speaker

Dr Cheema alleged that Imran Khan was taking the country towards a civil war by inciting the people to attack the houses of PTI opponents. He said the parliament should take notice of this situation and save the country from a possible civil war. He said after seeing the PTI’s rule, it had now become evident that Imran Khan neither had “administrative capabilities” nor the sportsman spirit.

Referring to the PTI’s narrative about the foreign conspiracy behind the ouster of its government, the PML-N lawmaker recalled that Mr Khan was supporting the former military dictator Gen Pervez Musharraf when he was providing the country’s air bases to the US which later carried out some 5,700 attacks on Afghanistan on the basis of intelligence sharing.

Another PML-N MNA Ehsanul Haq Bajwa lambasted Imran Khan for dragging religion into politics. Declaring Mr Khan a hypocrite, the PML-N MNA from Bahawalnagar made some derogatory and personal remarks against Imran Khan which were expunged by Mr Durrani, who was presiding over the sitting at that time.

Mohsin Shahnazwaz Ranjha of the PML-N asked the government to scrutinise the donations which the PTI had been receiving online from abroad for running its campaign against the institutions. He alleged that the PTI in the recent days had received about Rs115 million from abroad which had been collected by the contractors from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab through kickbacks and then laundered abroad.

Mr Ranjha suggested that all members should file defamation cases against former deputy speaker Qasim Suri for declaring them traitors through his ruling which had already been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. He said the members should file defamation cases claiming billions of rupees for their loss of reputation.

‘Record controversial legislation’

Parliamentary leader of the JUI-F Asad Mehmood said that the previous PTI government had done “record controversial legislation” which needed to be undone. He specifically mentioned the legislations giving autonomy to the State Bank of Pakistan and those done to meet the requirements of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) against terrorism.

Mr Mehmood, who is the son of party chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, regretted that despite facing charges of receiving foreign funds, Imran Khan was labelling his opponents as “traitors”.

He drew the attention of the house towards a statement of former information minister Fawad Chaudhry that the PTI government had been dismissed because of its strained relations with the “establishment”. He asked the PTI leadership to decide whether their government had been kicked out due to a foreign conspiracy or due to its relations with the establishment.

Asad Mehmood asked the speaker to immediately constitute the parliamentary committee on electoral reforms. He said the people had high expectations from the new government that it would provide them some relief despite getting power for a brief time.

PTI dissidents Raja Riaz, Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani and Ahmed Hussain Deharr called for action against the former prime minister and others who had allegedly abrogated the constitution.

Mr Riaz was of the view that it was the responsibility of the parliament to ensure that those who had violated the constitution must be punished under Article 6.

Mr Deharr criticised President Arif Alvi for not administering the oath to the prime minister and his cabinet members. He also lashed out at former speaker Asad Qaiser over his act preferring his personal relations with Imran Khan over the country’s constitution. He alleged that for three years, Imran Khan continued to rule the country with the support of establishment and the judiciary and he lost the government within days of losing that support. Referring to the incidents of last few days of the PTI government, he said that Imran Khan had brought the country at the brink of martial law.

Later, the speaker prorogued the assembly session which had been convened on March 25 for an indefinite period.

Published in Dawn, April 22nd, 2022

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