ISLAMABAD: Lawmakers of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) staged a protest outside Parliament House on Thursday to condemn the National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) “victimisation” of members of the opposition.
The protest comes a day after the arrest of senior PPP leader Syed Khursheed Shah, who became the latest high-profile opposition leader to land behind bars in a NAB case.
“The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-led government has paralysed the parliament. Members of the opposition are being persecuted on baseless and trumped-up charges,” said PML-N leader Khawaja Asif.
PPP leader Naveed Qamar echoed similar views as he condemned the arrests and consequent treatment of opposition leaders. “Instead of real accountability, this government is more interested in conducting media trials of its political opponents. The PTI wants to run the assembly like its own parliamentary party.”
Both Qamar and Asif criticised National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser for his failure to issue production orders for the incarcerated parliament members.
“The NA speaker is violating his oath by depriving elected representatives of their right to attend assembly sessions,” said Asif, warning that the opposition’s protest would escalate if Qaiser did not meet their demand.
The lawmakers arrested by NAB in different cases include former president Asif Ali Zardari, former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, former finance minister Miftah Ismail, former railways minister Saad Rafique, Ali Wazir, Mohsin Dawar, Rana Sanaullah, and Khursheed Shah.
Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif was also arrested last year and is currently out on bail.
Other senior leaders of opposition parties including ousted premier Nawaz Sharif, PML-N vice presidents Maryam Nawaz and Hamza Shehbaz, and PPP’s Faryal Talpur are also currently imprisoned.