LAHORE: Opposition has demanded calling a National Assembly session to discuss hike in electricity, gas and petroleum prices and has also constituted a committee, headed by Pakistan Peoples Party’s (PPP) Khursheed Shah, to look into appointment of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) members.
An emergency meeting of the opposition leaders took place at the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) central secretariat and was headed by the NA Opposition Leader Shehbaz Sharif.
Shah did not come to the meeting due to ill health but still participated via telephone. The Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam’s Asad-ur-Rehman and the PML-N’s Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Ayaz Sadiq, Ahsan Iqbal, Rana Tanveer, Rana Sanaullah and Marriyum Aurangzeb were among those who attended the moot.
The meeting discussed the overall situation of the country, hike in prices of electricity, gas and petroleum products and other affairs. The members decided that a joint struggle should be launched on public issues and a voice be raised in the assemblies.
After the meeting, Abbasi, flanked by other PML-N leaders, briefed the media, saying the session jointly demanded calling a meeting to debate hike in prices of electricity, gas and petroleum products.
“The committee formed under Khursheed Shah will examine appointment of the ECP members and also consider the attitude the government has adopted on the issue. The prime minister is violating law and the Constitution [by not holding consultations with opposition leader on ECP appointments],” he said.
He asked why an extension in military courts’ tenure was necessary and how it could help in maintaining peace. This matter should be brought to parliament as this is not an ordinary law, he said.
He accused Premier Imran Khan of resorting to lies and claimed that the country was bankrupted not due to the National Finance Commission (NFC) award and the 18th Amendment but due to his government.
“The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has governments in three provinces as well as the Centre and it can change the NFC award,” he added. With regard to the ECP members’ appointment, Abbasi said consultations have to be held and the matter should go to parliament after consultation.
“[PM] Imran Khan claims that the opposition has asked the government for a National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO)-style deal. But my question is if they [government] have the power to provide an NRO. Imran Khan will require an NRO himself,” he added.
To a question about summoning the NA session through requisition, Abbasi said the speaker himself says he is under pressure by the government and the PM and cannot run the session. He criticised the speaker, saying no public issue had been debated in parliament over the last 8 months.
To a question about participation of PTI’s disqualified lawmaker Jahangir Tareen in official meetings, he said now the foreign minister has also spoken against it and their own house is on fire.
Regarding change in name of the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP), the former PM said this change could only be made through parliament.
“Every child is saying the economy has become bankrupt… I ask if the country could afford to grant 5 years to this government. The government could survive only a few more months in the current conditions,” he said. To a question on extension of the army chief’s tenure, Abbasi said tenure of the army chief is three years, according to the Constitution.