ISLAMABAD: Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, whose lawmakers have been boycotting parliament’s proceedings, has announced that it will also not attend a joint parliamentary sitting scheduled to be addressed on November 17 by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The Turkish leader will arrive in Islamabad on a two-day state visit next week. President Mamnoon Hussain has convened a joint session of parliament on November 17, which the Turkish president will address.
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“We have great respect for President Erdogan and the PTI welcomes his visit, but attending the joint session that will be held under the leadership of a controversial prime minister is not an option for the party,” PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi told The Express Tribune.
He said his party had a clear stance on the Panamagate scandal and the ‘corruption of the prime minister’. “The PTI will request President Erdogan to take some time out of his busy schedule for a meeting with a delegation of the PTI outside Parliament House,” he added.
The PTI on October 4 announced a boycott of parliament in protest against Premier Nawaz’s refusal to offer himself up for accountability in the wake of the Panama Papers’ revelations.
The leak of classified documents of a Panama-based firm in April showed that Sharif’s three children had stashed money in offshore companies. Currently, the Supreme Court is hearing a slew of petitions, including that of PTI’s, regarding the scandal.
PTI’s federal lawmakers had last showed up in the National Assembly on October 4. And in the evening the PTI chief announced a boycott of the joint sitting held from Oct 5-Oct7 to discuss human rights violation in Indian Occupied Kashmir and Indian’s continuous violation of the Line of Control.
The PTI has also announced it will continue its boycott even after the Nov 17 joint sitting and will also not attend the National Assembly’s next session starting from Nov 18.
The Turkish president is not likely to mind the PTI’s absence from the joint session as he is facing a similar situation back home, where the People’s Democratic Party (HDP) is currently boycotting the Turkish parliament to protest the arrest of its members for their ‘alleged links’ with Kurdish rebels.
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However, some PTI leaders have disapproved this decision of their leadership. A PTI leader, Chaudhry Fawad Hussain, in his tweet said, “The PTI must attend the parliament’s joint session. Politics is always inclusive. Such actions will harm no one but the party’s image and system.”
This is the second time during the era of the incumbent regime that the PTI has resorted to boycotting the parliament. It first boycott, which lasted for over seven months, was held in the backdrop of its protest against alleged rigging in the 2013 general elections.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 13th, 2016.
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