ISLAMABAD: The newly appointed opposition leader Raja Riaz Ahmed on Monday made an ugly start in the National Assembly as he received the wrath of his own colleagues on the opposition benches over his maiden address, in which he had lashed out at PTI chairman Imran Khan and suggest the coalition government use force against the former prime minister in order to stop him from spreading anarchy through his planned long march.
Mr Ahmed, a PTI dissident, in his first-ever speech after his nomination as the opposition leader by Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, harshly criticised Mr Khan and called him “turncoat, corrupt and fraudster” amid desk-thumping by the treasury members when the house met after a two-day recess.
Mr Ahmed, however, received flak from other opposition members who advised him to keep his focus on the present government’s policies, instead of targeting Mr Khan, who was not present in the house to defend himself.
Ghous Bux Mahar and Dr Fehmida Mirza of the GDA challenged Mr Ahmed’s nomination as the opposition leader, and termed the group of the PTI dissidents a “B-Team” of the present coalition government. They said they were not interested in hearing what Imran Khan had done and targeted Mr Ahmed for criticising the former prime minister after enjoying power under him for more than three years.
Lone Jamaat-i-Islami MNA Maulana Abdul Akbar Chitrali even “condemned” the opposition leader’s speech, saying he should have talked about the issues being faced by the masses like loadshedding and water scarcity, instead of wasting time on targeting the previous government.
Surprisingly, PTI dissident from Rajanpur Sardar Riaz Mazari also took Mr Ahmed to task over his speech. The MNA said today they were sitting in the assembly as dissidents because Imran Khan did not give them respect, but they should not talk about him in the assembly in his absence.
Taking the floor soon after the question hour, the opposition leader lambasted Imran Khan for giving a call for the protest march to Islamabad on May 25 at a time when the new government was struggling to clear the mess created by the previous PTI government.
He accused Imran Khan of committing massive corruption during the PTI government’s tenure, besides destructing the national economy due to incompetence.
Mr Ahmed asked the government not to show any leniency and handle the long march with an iron hand without caring for the criticism from civil society and media. Defence Minister Khawaja Asif endorsed Mr Ahmed’s views and alleged that the past rulers and their cronies had destroyed the government departments due to their bad governance and incompetence.
Meanwhile, PTI dissident Noor Alam Khan was elected unopposed as chairman of the Public Accounts Committee.
Published in Dawn, May 24th, 2022