ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) on Monday strongly protested at the National Assembly after the chair ‘did not allow’ the PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari to speak, forcing the deputy speaker to adjourn the session.
Taking the floor, the PPP’s Shazia Marri said the PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari, who was arrested earlier in the day, was targeted by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB). Addressing the speaker, she said it is his responsibility to ensure Zardari’s presence in the house through production order.
“NAB has double standards for the opposition and the government,” she added.
The PPP leader and former prime minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf demanded that the proceedings of the house be suspended till a senior lawmaker like Zardari returns to the house.
Leader of Opposition Shehbaz Sharif also condemned Zardari’s arrest and said the former president was not using any tactics to delay the proceedings of money laundering cases lodged against him and his family members and that the speaker must issue production order so at he may attend the NA sessions.
Responding to the speeches by opposition members, Interior Minister Ijaz Shah said cancelling Zardari’s bail was a court decision and the government had nothing to do with it. “NAB is not created by this government and the accountability watchdog does not seek government’s opinion,” he added.
The PPP lawmaker later started a protest when the chair did not allow the PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari to speak prior to Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid. Deputy Speaker Qasim Khan Suri kept assuring the PPP members that Bilawal would be allowed to speak after Rashid.
However, the PPP members gathered around the speakers’ dais and started raising slogans.
During his speech, Rashid, who was speaking with reference to his ministry’ performance, vowed that he would not allow Bilawal to speak if he was not allowed to speak. As the PPP members continued their protest, the deputy speaker adjourned the session till today (Tuesday) 5pm.
Shehbaz’s speech and Qureshi’s reply
The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Shehbaz Sharif, who returned to Pakistan on Sunday after his 2-month stay in London, said Prime Minister Imran Khan raised the Kashmir issue at the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) summit but Kashmir was not mentioned in OIC communiqué.
“It is unfortunate that the OIC did not take Kashmir seriously,” he said.
The PML-N president, who is also facing a number of graft cases, also criticised NAB and said NAB chairman’s recent interview to Express News anchor Javed Chaudhry had exposed NAB’s nexus with the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government.
“[In the interview] NAB chairman spoke against all political parties and their leadership. NAB never denied the chairman’s statement while Javed Chaudhry also stands by each and every word he wrote.”
Shehbaz said he had never met NAB chairman but the latter leveled allegations against him. He said his party had demanded a parliamentary committee to investigate into sexual harassment charges leveled by a woman against NAB chairman.
Responding to Shehbaz, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said a separate meeting of the OIC foreign ministers was held on Pakistan’s request and the Kashmir issue was raised in it.
Qureshi said Zardari’s case was 3-year-old and he had got bail extension twelve times. He said the high court [which rejected Zardari’s bail] is independent. The executive cannot give dictation to court.
“Bail cancellation was announced by the court after a lengthy hearing. The speaker can, however, use his privilege to issue production order of an MNA after his arrest. NAB should not be used for any kind of revenge and should take across the board actions,” he added.