PA session: Opposition grills treasury over ECL issue

PPP leader says accountability should be across the board

Rana Yasif January 12, 2019

LAHORE: The treasury benches came under fire when the opposition slated the government for not removing the names of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leaders from the Exit Control List (ECL) despite the court had issued ordered in this regard.

The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) also came down hard on the provincial government after the names of some PPP leaders including Sindh chief minister were not removed despite the orders from the country’s top court. It (PML-N) made it clear to the house that “they will not let PTI hit the chief minister of any other province now”.

Pandemonium started when PPP leader Syed Hassan Murtaza criticised PTI for not removing the names of his leaders including PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto from the ECL and left the house for a few minutes as a token walk out.

Punjab govt comes under fire for ignoring underprivileged areas

On a point of order, PPP’s Hassan Murtaza remarked that PTI’s ministers were “above the Constitution” as they were not ready to comply with the orders of the country’s top court. “The conduct of the government will annihilate the politics,” he maintained. “Is it the merit that the Supreme Court’s decision requires the approval of the cabinet?” he asked. “Accountability should be carried out across the board and the difference should be maintained between accountability and victimisation,” he lamenting said. At this Punjab Minister for Housing, Urban Development and Public Health Engineering Mian Mehmoodur Rasheed said no one would be spared for looting the public money.

“PML-N and PPP lawmakers are covering each other’s corruption but their move will not succeed. Where was PPP at that time when the respectable judiciary had asked to write to the Swiss banks but PPP preferred to sacrifice former PM Yousaf Raza Gillani but did comply with the order?” he said.

Rasheed said those who looted the money would have to return it back. “No Sindh card this time. Now only Pakistan card will work,” he added.

PML-N’s MPA Samiullah Khan said what message we wanted to give others by not removing Sindh CM’s name from the ECL despite the court orders. “The PML-N will stop PTI from treating provinces in such a manner,” he said.

In the same breath he asked whether Aleema Khan had paid the fine and if she had already paid the same, then the house be told why she was fined. “Why is PTI crying over helicopter’s case? It was the only word ‘Khanum’, the second name of Aleema, that saved her from going to jail, otherwise, no one could have stopped her from going to jail if she was called as Aleema Bhutto or Aleema Sharif.”

As the house entered into a heated discussion, the deputy speaker adjourned the session for Monday 3:00pm.

However, during the question-answer session, the law minister admitted that former Chief Minister Mian Shehbaz Sharif and his family had borne all the expenses of their foreign visits from their own pockets. He was responding to a query put by PTI’s Mussarat Jamshed that how many visits the former CM had paid, how much money had been spent on them and how many people used to visit abroad at that time.

Basharat said those staff and officials accompanied him were around 300 and the details he was provided revealed that the relevant officials went on official visits with Shehbaz Sharif. He said former CM’s family also went on some visits along with Shehbaz but they paid money from their own pockets. The expenses of government officials were paid under the TA/DA rules.

There were around 40 visits the former CM paid to different countries and on some visits, his family went along with him but all expenses were paid from their own pockets.

Both the treasury and the opposition benches were unanimous on a point to constitute a special committee to rein the private schools from charging an exorbitant fee. However, the law minister requested to fix a day for general discussion and then a committee be constituted for the purpose.

At one point, the treasury had a little edge over the opposition when it grilled PML-N over the misuse of Zakat funds across Punjab in the last tenure.

Punjab Minister for Zakat and Usher Shoukat Ali Lalika said millions of rupees from Zakat fund was misused in different areas across Punjab. This irked PML-N lawmakers but Lalika lamented saying PML-N’s favourites were appointed for the distribution of Zakat.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 12th, 2019.


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