Reports of NA being run on 'phone calls' has caused anomaly in the country: Fawad

Published June 29, 2022
PTI leaders Fawad Chaudhry, Asad Umar and Shireen Mazari at a press conference on Wednesday. — DawnNewsTV
PTI leaders Fawad Chaudhry, Asad Umar and Shireen Mazari at a press conference on Wednesday. — DawnNewsTV

Former information minister Fawad Chaudhry on Wednesday claimed there were reports that the National Assembly was being run on "phone calls" which he described as an "anomaly" in the country.

"You are seeing what has been happening in parliament for the past three days. Two days ago, BAP (Balochistan Awami Party) said that the assembly is being run on phone calls. Yesterday, Fehmida Mirza said the same thing," he said at a media talk outside the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) alongside PTI leaders Shireen Mazari and Asad Umar.

Fawad was referring to comments made by Aslam Bhootani, an independent MNA from Gwadar, during the budget debate in the NA earlier this week.

The lawmaker had lodged a strong protest against Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal for not including development schemes in his Lasbela constituency in the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP), despite repeated requests by PPP’s Asif Zardari, and even Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.

"Then, I requested those [quarters] from where we normally receive telephone calls — if their calls still held any weight — to ask Ahsan Iqbal,” said Bhootani without elaborating further about the telephone calls.

Khalid Magsi of the Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) had also expressed similar feelings, saying that it seemed that those who were desperate to obtain their support at the time of the no-confidence vote, “do not like our faces now”.

In the media briefing today, Fawad claimed that the assembly was no longer independent as its "biased" speaker was running a "biased" session.

"This news has caused an anomaly in the country," he stated, stressing that for economic stability, it was extremely important for Pakistan to be politically stable.

Fawad said Pakistan's Constitution had been "abandoned" since May 25, claiming that none of the functions in the state were being performed as per the Constitution. "Why isn't the Supreme Court hearing the reference filed by Faisal Vawda? Why isn't it forming a commission on the cipher despite several letters by the president?

"What will you achieve out of isolating PTI? Are you expecting the country's biggest political party to form militant wings? Are you expecting it to engage in bloodshed?" he asked.

All these things, the former minister said, were causing a crisis in the country. "And the only way out is to to hold fresh elections. Political stability comes when you abide by the Constitution. And that happens when you go towards fresh elections."

'Internal interference and rigging on 20 PA seats'

Meanwhile, PTI secretary general Asad Umar claimed that the Punjab government was just counting its days and would soon come to an end.

"The court's order is out on reserved seats. Today, we have submitted an application demanding ECP to issue the notification on these seats because there is an illegal government in Punjab right now," he said.

On June 27, the Lahore High Court (LHC) had instructed the ECP to notify PTI members on five reserved seats of the Punjab Assembly that fell vacant following the de-seating of 25 PTI lawmakers over defection.

Last month, 25 PTI dissident lawmakers, which included five elected on seats reserved for women and minorities, were de-seated for voting for PML-N's Hamza Shehbaz in the Punjab chief minister's election. They were officially de-notified by the ECP on May 23.

The PTI had filed a petition in the LHC on May 28 requesting it to direct the electoral watchdog to notify the five new MPAs and "summon [them] personally". The commission had, however, decided that the notification would be stayed until by-elections were held in the province on July 17.

In his media talk today, Umar claimed that the PML-N government was trying to rig the polls on these seats. "When the elections are near, a mechanism is followed whereby you can message on 8300 and find out where your vote is. However, instead of telling people their constituencies for these votes, the message they are receiving contains information regarding the general elections.

"This is simply rigging. You are misleading the voter by giving them the wrong information," he said, adding that the PTI has, therefore, decided to file an application in ECP demanding that the same voting list on which elections are to be held should be sent to the people.

The former federal minister also revealed that there was news of "internal interference" in these polls.

"The ECP should immediately investigate this issue. It is their responsibility to hold transparent elections," Umar asserted, alleging that the electoral body and other institutions were "trying to save the unconstitutional government in Punjab".

'CEC should resign'

Subsequently, ex-human rights minister Shireen Mazari demanded that Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja should immediately resign as he had "lost all credibility".

"The problem is that the CEC is trying to change the Constitution. The way he has stopped the notification on reserved seats shows that he is violating the law," she said.

The ECP, Mazari continued, can no longer hold transparent elections. "It is time for the Supreme Court to take action."

She added that it was best for the CEC to resign himself because his efforts to take decisions against the Constitution were continuously being rejected by the higher courts.

This is not the first time the PTI has demanded the Raja's resignation. For his part, Raja has said he has no intention of quitting.

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