- MQM protests on being ‘sidelined’ during the formation of the opposition’s TOR committee
There was a heated debate in the National Assembly on Thursday as politicians from both the treasury and the opposition benches voiced concerns and opinions on the method to form the committee to draft the Terms of References (TORs) for the Panama Papers commission.
The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) found itself in an awkward position when the opposition parties refused to give it a seat on the committee while the treasury benches were seen arguing on their behalf.
The treasury benches even went to the extent of unilaterally increasing the number of the committee members from each side from six to eight to give the opposition another chance to put one of the MQM’s representatives in the committee after the opposition parties ignored them in the first pick.
PTI’s Shah Mahmood Qureshi began his speech by criticising the government’s ‘unilateral move’ to increase the number of committee members to 16, after it had already agreed with the opposition to set the number of the committee members at 12.
Following a heated discussion, the clause was reverted back to the original form and the provision for 16 members was rescinded.
The opposition nominated Senator Aitzaz Ahsan from Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Shah Mahmood Qureshi from Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Aftab Sherpao of Awami Watan Party, Sahibzada Tariq Ullah of Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), Ilyas Baloor of Awami National Party (ANP) and Tariq Bashir Cheema of Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q).
WHY OPPOSITION CAN’T TRUST MQM:
MQM was one of the two political parties which forced the opposition parties to drop their demand of the prime minister’s resignation. There were also reports in media that MQM had decided to part ways with the opposition parties on the Panama Papers issue.
MQM lawmaker Ali Raza Abidi was quoted as saying that the party will neither support the government nor the opposition, and will come up with its own strategy.
“We demand investigations in the offshore companies of Imran Khan, the Sharif family, and whoever has been named in the Panama Papers,” he was quoted as saying.
‘THEY ARE NOT OUR ALLIES,’ PML-N SWEARS UP AND DOWN:
Addressing the House, MQM leader Asif Hussnain said that his party should be included in the opposition as it participated in the opposition parties’ meetings. He denied the rumors that MQM has not been part of the opposition for a long time. He demanded that his party be made part of the opposition and not be neglected.
The treasury benches also advocated the case of the MQM with Finance Minister Ishaq Dar saying that the party must be given representation in the opposition committee.
Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique also criticised the decision of the opposition to ostracise MQM and purge it from their ranks. He said that the MQM has been part and parcel of the opposition and should not be considered as the government’s ally.
Shah Mahmood Qureshi, however, said that MQM remained part of the opposition until recently but then it suddenly stopped coming.
“MQM is an opposition party, but it is strange how it is being advocated for by the government. If it wants to be part of the committee it should contact Khursheed Shah.”
Qureshi said that while MQM had been part of the opposition, yesterday, some of its members went to meet Ishaq Dar instead of coming to Leader of Opposition Khursheed Shah with their reservations.
He said that the opposition cannot trust a member who only pays lip service to their cause. They need to see the actual input and output.
Mahmood Khan Achakzai also addressed the House and said Pakistan should be rid of corruption.
“No institute is corruption free, be it political, administrative or judicial,” Achakzai said, and added, “We are busy in mudslinging and calling each other names. Parliament should be the centre of all politics and the beacon of political power.”