13 Opp senators refuse Zardari’s dinner with GST on the menu


ISLAMABAD: The opposition in the Upper House of parliament on Wednesday stood divided on attending a dinner hosted by President Asif Ali Zardari as 21 Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) legislators attended the banquet while 13 senators of the PML-Nawaz, Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) and minor parties from Balochistan boycotted the dinner, terming it a ploy to win support for the General Sales Tax (GST).
Those who boycotted the dinner included seven senators from the PML-N, three from the JI, three senators from Balochistan – Dr Abdul Malik and Mir Hasil Bizenjo of the National Party (NP) and Abdul Rahim Mandokhel of Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party. Professor Khurshid Ahmad of the JI said three of his party colleagues along with three senators from Balochistan had boycotted the dinner.
“We believe that this dinner was hosted to woo the opposition and other coalition partners into supporting the GST. The government is in a difficult situation and all attempts are being made to win support. Even pressure tactics are being made to woo the opposition and coalition parties while lucrative offers are also being made to persuade the legislators,” he said.
When contacted, PML-N Senator Pervaiz Rasheed confirmed that his party’s legislators did not attend the dinner hosted by the president. “Yes, the PML-N senators did not attend the dinner. But please do not use the word ‘boycott’, rather we did not attend the dinner, as we knew that it was to woo the opposition’s support for the GST,” he said.
However, a press release issued by the Presidency claimed that the meeting was attended by about 60 senators belonging to various political parties.
Separately, addressing the senators at the dinner, Zardari said that people had great expectations from the elected representatives and all political forces needed to work together to steer the country out of difficulties and confront the challenges head on.
Islamabad would continue to pursue its huge socio-economic development agenda and meet the expectations of the people who had reposed their confidence in the government, he said. While commenting on constitutional supremacy in the country, the president said that the present parliament had the distinction of being the House that established parliamentary sovereignty and restored the 1973 constitution to its original form by removing undemocratic clauses inserted into it by successive dictatorial regimes.