Tempers flared in the National Assembly session on Monday as leaders from the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) traded incendiary allegations against each other.
Opposition Leader Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan gave a fiery speech, accusing both the military and civilian leaders of incompetence and deceiving the Pakistani people, demanding an independent national commission to investigate the events of May 2, when a US special forces unit killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in a ‘black’ operation in Abbottabad.
“The nation wants to know how Bin Laden and his family lived in a highly fortified city,” said Nisar in his speech. “What sort of help did Pakistan extend to the US to reach him? We also want to know why the government remained oblivious of the 40-minute operation when all of Abbottabad city was awakened by it. What is the response time of our forces in case of such infringement of our borders?”
Nisar continued his streak of being unusually critical of the military and intelligence services, accusing them of being “asleep” during the US raid. He went as far as questioning the sincerity of the military in protecting the country’s nuclear arsenal, saying “If we cannot protect them, we may hand them over to the US.”
Even though Nisar’s speech was most critical of the military and intelligence services, Interior Minister Rehman Malik went ballistic in response, accusing the PML-N of being funded by Bin Laden and “feeling orphaned after his death.”
“I have proofs that it was the PML-N leadership that brought Bin Laden from Sudan through a special C-130 flight,” claimed Malik. “He was their close ally. He funded them. A case is still pending with the Supreme Court regarding the PML-N’s funding. Why don’t they ask the court to take it up?”
Malik’s remarks were met with applause from the treasury benches, including his cabinet colleagues and the prime minister.
Nevertheless, his comments were incendiary enough to even send some of the government’s allies scurrying as they distanced themselves from them. Munir Orakzai, the parliamentary leader of MNAs from Fata, went as far as to call Malik a ‘liar’. The PML-N lawmakers shouted slogans during Malik’s speech and walked out of the house.
For all the partisan rancour in the National Assembly, the PML-N agreed to the government’s suggestion for a closed-door session of parliament for next Friday to discuss the matter, though Nisar insisted that the session be more meaningful than a similar briefing held two years ago, which had addressed the country’s counter-terrorism strategy.
The PML-N has also accused the PPP-led government of having abdicated its role in foreign policy and national security matters to the
Published in The Express Tribune, May 10th, 2011.