–PPP chief criticises decision to suspend standing committee meetings, says they are backbone of parliament
–Expresses concerns over curbs on media
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) chief Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Tuesday advised Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani to step down from the post of the Senate chairmanship hours after a motion was filed against the incumbent chairman.
In a press conference in Islamabad, the PPP chairman said Sanjrani was the candidate of the then joint opposition [PPP-PTI led alliance] but now the composition of opposition has changed, so it wants to bring another consensus candidate for the top slot.
Bilawal also took a hit at the prime minister for reportedly barring the National Assembly speaker from issuing the production orders of the detained lawmakers.
“It is ironic that a person who claims that he is not frightened of death is scared of a production order. The speaker of is making the House dysfunctional by stopping the standing committees from functioning in the name of austerity,” he said while responding to the suspension of the standing committee meetings.
He said, “How it is possible to hold meetings of 35 standing committees in 10 rooms available for the purpose. These committees set the groundwork for the House so the speaker seems totally ignorant of the importance of these committees.”
“Without the functions of standing committees, the parliament is incomplete.”
Further questioning the notification, he said the order was issued at a time when the speaker and the deputy speaker were out of the country. He demanded of the speaker to withdraw this decision.
Speaking about curb on press, Bilawal said that the incumbent government, led by a “fascist party”, has curtailed the freedom of the press to the point where it appears to be ‘non-existent’.
The PPP chief said that three TV channels had been pulled off air without any prior notice or due process. “This is an outrageous attack on the freedom of the press,” he said.
Bilawal said that journalists are being pressurised in the country and are being forced to compromise on their freedom. “They cannot express their views freely neither in newspapers nor on Twitter,” he said, adding that if they dare to do so, their social media accounts are closed.
“While speaking on the floor of the House, I told the government that censorship is not a solution to problems the country is facing as the frustration which is being suppressed will sooner or later come out in any shape and the consequences would be disastrous,” he said.
“Why were the interviews of former Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) spokesperson Ehsanullah Ehsan and Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav aired while the interviews of youth from erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and former premier and president are not allowed to be aired,” he asked.
On July 7, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) issued notices to 21 TV channels for the “unedited live telecast” of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Vice President Maryam Nawaz’s press conference in Lahore on Saturday.