Nawaz returns next month, Asif tells NA

Defence minister claims PTI march violating people’s rights

Our Correspondent November 25, 2022
PML-N leader Khawaja Asif. PHOTO: FILE


Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo and three times former prime minister Nawaz Sharif would return to the country next month, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif told the National Assembly on Friday.

The minister warned the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) not to violate people’s rights during its protest in Islamabad on Saturday (today), saying that protest was everyone’s right but the limits of the Constitution and law must not be crossed.

While addressing the National Assembly, while responding to a point of order, the defence minister said the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) protests had violated people’s rights, adding that everyone had the right to protest but the limits of the Constitution and law should not be crossed.

“Nawaz Sharif will return home before the end of 2022,” the minister said, addressing the lower house of parliament. At present, Nawaz has been residing in London since November 2019 to receive medical treatment for his blood-related ailment.

Asif also fired a broadside against former prime minister and PTI Chairman Imran Khan. He said that no development work was carried out during the past four years of the PTI government, adding that the incumbent government had explained these circumstances to the people.

Commenting on the PTI march on the federal capital on Saturday (today), Asif assured that the government would protect the people’s rights if those were violated by the PTI. “Protest is everyone’s right but the limit of the Constitution and Law must not be crossed,” he said.

Asif said that flood victims should be compensated timely and without any prejudice. He made it clear that neither the federal nor the provincial governments were distributing flood relief on the basis of party affiliation. “While distributing assistance, nobody asked the flood victims about which party they belonged to,” Asif said.

However, the minister added, if there was any sort of distinction in some areas, it should be sorted out on a priority. He emphasised that he would bring the matter to the federal cabinet’s attention to address the grievances of the lawmakers.

He also mentioned that because of the winter season, it would be quite difficult for the flood victims to spend nights under the open sky. “It is the responsibility of the government to provide them shelter before the temperature reaches freezing point.”

The minister told the house that the government had very limited resources but despite the crunch, it was financially stretching other institutions to provide relief to the flood-affected people. The minister added that the government was withdrawing money from other sectors and giving it to the victims.

Asif lamented “the flaw of our political culture” that the winning candidate got funds for development schemes, while the candidate of the opposition party was not entertained equally. “This political flaw should be eliminated and every member of this august house should be treated equally.”

Earlier, Hashim Notezai of the Balochistan National Party (BNP) urged the government to provide cash to the flood-affected people so that they could build their houses. Ghous Bakhsh Mahar of the Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) point to the delays in providing relief to the affected victims, particularly in Sindh.
Speaking in the house, climate change Minister Sherry Rehman slammed the PTI for trying to “interfere” in the process of appointing the new military command. She also criticised President Arif Alvi’s meeting with PTI Chairman Imran Khan before signing the summary sent to him by the prime minister.

“They have even made the president controversial … they called the president [to Lahore] yesterday to give the impression that they [the PTI] are still relevant,” she told the house. “They [PTI] tried to interfere in a political matter … they tried to interfere in a key appointment.”

Rehman said that the PTI’s long march had not aim. She went on to say that amid testing times when Pakistan was in the midst of a massive climate disaster and millions of people were suffering, “Imran and his party have decided to hold a long march”.

“Instead of working for the welfare of the people … the way they have picked up a container and are marching towards Islamabad … do they have any idea about the pain of the people … do they care about how the country will overcome the floods?” she asked.

“Even now, as we speak, winters are approaching and we all know how they will affect the people. In a country where 33 million people have been affected … these people want to do politics of division,” she charged. “The world is asking about the reason behind Imran’s long march when the country is in a tough situation.”



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