–Abbasi accuses govt of using NAB to pressurise Opp; Fawad calls for free hand to NAB and courts in anti-corruption drive
–PPP endorses PML-N’s demand for production orders of Saad Rafique, Qamar says Opp members are jailed in dictatorships, not in democracies
–Info minister’s remark on ‘upbringing’ of PML-N members causes uproar in House
–Murad Saeed claims 7 PML-N leaders approached him for ‘NRO’, agrees on holding PM Imran’s sister Aleema accountable over foreign properties
ISLAMABAD: The ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) traded barbs with the opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) in the National Assembly on Wednesday after the latter accused it of using the accountability watchdog to victimise the opposition leadership.
“NA Opposition Leader Shehbaz Sharif was arrested, however till date no case has been formed against him. Accountability institutions are being used to exert pressure on opposition parties,” said former prime minister and PML-N MNA Shahid Khaqan Abbasi while addressing the House.
Shehbaz Sharif was also present in the session.
“We are not against accountability but the way pressure is being exerted on the opposition is against democracy and parliament. Saad Rafique has said on the assembly floor that he is not involved in the corruption case yet he was also arrested,” the former premier asserted. The former railways minister and his brother Salman Rafique, a provincial lawmaker, were arrested on Tuesday after the Lahore High Court rejected their bail plea in the Paragon Housing Society scam.
Abbasi added that Hamza Shehbaz is the opposition leader in the Punjab Assembly yet his name was included in the Exit Control List (ECL) and he was stopped from boarding a flight to London. On the other hand, Zulfi Bukhari’s name is on the no-fly list but Prime Minister Imran Khan took him along for Umrah and nobody questioned this blatant violation of rules, said the former premier.
“The country has failed the ministers but the prime minister has passed them,” he quipped.
“NAB members are levelling allegations against opposition members. If media trials are held today then where will we get justice tomorrow?” Abbasi asked.
The PML-N leader further said, “The prime minister’s helicopter case is in NAB and if the opposition leader can be arrested then the leader of the House can also be arrested in the case. There is a case against Punjab Assembly speaker, arrest him too. There is a Malam Jabba case against the defence minister and he should be arrested as well.”
“An accountability bureau of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was set up and billions of rupees were spent on it but no questions have been raised on its performance. There was a court order against Jahangir Tareen but he is also roaming free,” the former premier said.
Abbasi urged NA Speaker Asad Qaiser to ensure parliament’s supremacy by issuing Saad Rafique’s production orders.
The PML-N’s demand was endorsed by Pakistan People’s Party’s Naveed Qamar.
“It looks like the next session [of the assembly] will have to be conducted in Adiala [jail],” the PPP MNA said. “The government’s aim is to malign the opposition; it wants to rule as a single party.
“Opposition members are jailed in dictatorships, not democracies,” Qamar added.
‘PML-N MEMBERS DO NOT HAVE RIGHT UPBRINGING’:
Taking the floor of the House, Federal Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry lashed out at the opposition leadership for objecting to the arrest of the Khawaja brothers in connection with the Paragon Housing Society scandal.
Fawad claimed that “those making the most noise” did not want accountability, and called on the opposition to allow NAB and the courts to do their jobs.
In a scathing response to the opposition’s allegations, Fawad said the PML-N members did not have the “right upbringing”. The remark triggered an uproar in the PML-N benches.
“The PML-N does not seem to have been raised right,” the minister, notorious for his fiery parliamentary speeches, said.
“They do not listen to anyone [but themselves].”
When PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb interjected, Fawad hit back saying: “You also have to go [to jail so] please be patient.”
It is pertinent to mention here that NAB had on Tuesday “started examining” a complaint against Aurangzeb for allegedly possessing assets beyond her known sources of income.
NA Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri advised Fawad to take back his words, to which he cheekily replied: “All right then. Let me say that their upbringing has been good.”
Continuing, the information minister pointed out that the NAB chairman was appointed by Shahid Khaqan Abbasi. He added that the ongoing cases against opposition leaders were initiated during the tenure of the past governments.
“The public wants accountability for the looting carried out in the past 10 years. The current government is a representative of the public’s wishes,” the minister said.
“There is free and fair accountability for the first time in Pakistan’s history,” Fawad said, adding that “the prime minister is committed to eliminating corruption from the country”.
Minister of State for Communications Murad Saeed, meanwhile, suggested a rather radical solution to the menace of corruption.
“A resolution should be passed that whoever has looted even a penny of this nation should be hanged on D-Chowk, and their assets be auctioned off.”
The minister claimed that “seven PML-N members” — one of whom he said was present in the parliament — “have asked me for an NRO”.
The cases will, however, continue, Saeed maintained.
When the opposition interrupted Saeed and demanded that accountability should start from Prime Minister Imran Khan’s sister Aleema Khan, who is being probed for not disclosing her foreign properties, the PTI leader agreed and said, “Yes, of course.”
The NA session was later adjourned till Thursday.