NA session: Defence minister asserts parliament’s sovereignty

Published: April 9, 2014
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“Parliament is a supreme organ of the state and it would preserve its dignity besides having a respect for all other institutions.” says Khawaja Asif. PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE

“Parliament is a supreme organ of the state and it would preserve its dignity besides having a respect for all other institutions.” says Khawaja Asif. PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE

ISLAMABAD: 

A day after the army chief made a statement at Ghazi base vowing to preserve the dignity of the military, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif declared the supremacy of the Parliament over other institutions in the National Assembly on Tuesday.

In the defence of parliament, which he said can hold other institutions accountable, the minister said, “Parliament is a supreme organ of the state and it would preserve its dignity besides having a respect for all other institutions.”

Reportedly, Minister for Railways Khawaja Saad Rafiq clarified that the media has wrongly linked the army chief’s speech with the defence minister’s and termed the army chief’s statement as “purely professional”.

PTI motion on MP taxes accepted

The lower house of the parliament accepted on Tuesday a motion to constitute a special committee to probe the allegation of non-payment of taxes by a number of parliamentarians and report the matter within 90 days.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Member of National Assembly (MNA) Asad Umar moved the motion.

The treasury benches also backed the resolution and constitution of the 10-member committee to investigate the matter. The motion says that the committee should consist of not more than 10 members belonging to major political parties.

Umar moved the motion on behalf of his party, saying the constitution of the special committee was important because people deem the majority of parliamentarians as tax evaders.

“It is in the national interest that the issue should be investigated properly and the report be made public,” he said, adding that the investigation on the matter would help restore people’s confidence in the elected body. PTI chairman Imran Khan said tax evasion and poor tax collection are one of the major stumbling blocks in the way of the country’s progress and prosperity.

The total income of Pakistan stands at around Rs2.4 trillion while the expenditure exceeds Rs4 trillion, he said, adding the country is paying Rs1.3 trillion in debt servicing alone.

“It has been 11 months of the PML-N being in power but so far no tax reforms have been introduced,” he said, adding that poor tax collection can compromise the country’s independence. Imran said that if the government fails to broaden the tax net, the country would not be able to provide education and food to the growing population. “Pakistan is amongst the 10 countries where the tax to GDP ratio is the lowest,” he said.

Talking about his own tax returns and assets, he said the government should start an audit of his tax details. “If anything fishy surfaces during investigation of my tax details and assets, I should be sent behind bars,” he said.

He also said that the government should confiscate all his secret and undeclared assets in Pakistan and abroad, if any are found. The government is passing the burden of inflation and price hike to poor people because it is hesitant to broaden the tax net and levy direct taxes on the rich and well-off people, he maintained.

“If rich people are not brought into the tax net, it could help spread anarchy and chaos in the country,” he said, adding that even the French Revolution was caused by the then poor taxation system of the country.

Federal Minister for Information, Broadcasting, Law and Justice Senator Pervaiz Rashid said that the treasury benches also agreed to constitute a special committee to probe the non-payment of tax issue.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 9th, 2014.

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Reader Comments (14)

  • Khan
    Apr 9, 2014 - 3:11AM

    Bravo Khawaja Sahab, Army should be held accountable for 71, 99 and OBL raid as well ..

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  • Qaiser Ahmed
    Apr 9, 2014 - 3:58AM

    It is some of the people in the parliament who are questionable.Do you anyone? If you do, then why are you looking the other way.

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  • Fawad
    Apr 9, 2014 - 7:52AM

    ‘A committee whose members are from political parties to audit parliamentarians ?’ This just kills the purpose. Instead an international audit firm of excellent repute should be hired who had no stakes here.

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  • Ali
    Apr 9, 2014 - 9:06AM

    Should not the headline of this article be “PTI motion on MP taxes accepted”
    Biased media.

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  • Insafian
    Apr 9, 2014 - 9:07AM

    Great effort by Asad Umar. Appreciated.

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  • Mohammad
    Apr 9, 2014 - 9:13AM

    Parliament is sovereign only if all parliamentarians are scrutinized by Article 62/63……

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  • Kala_bacha
    Apr 9, 2014 - 9:57AM

    How is accountable yellow cab, itifaq sugar mills. Itifaq foundries, tractor scheme, laptop, dawewoo motorway scam. The list goes on, Mr minster forget to mention this.

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  • hmm
    Apr 9, 2014 - 10:08AM

    @Khan:
    and that will resolve our issues? & this is the prime demand of a common man, to go after army? Really?

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  • Pakistani
    Apr 9, 2014 - 10:59AM

    Mr. Khawaja Asif should know that just by shouting ‘Parliament is Supreme’ does not make it so. The track record of politicians is abysmal to say the least and they have nothing to show for their constant ranting and blubbering. These politicians themselves are the biggest violators of law.

    The issue is that there is a huge gulf between what these politicians claim to be and what they actually are and unless they actually do something for the people, they can keep on shouting about supremacy of parliament without anyone giving two hoots about it.

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  • Shahryar Ahmed
    Apr 9, 2014 - 11:14AM

    @Khan:
    And politicians who favored Army in the 80s & who looted & plundered & still are should also be tried for treason.

    I think it is only prudent that those people should criticize who have not been sheltered by Army regime previously unlike the present persons criticizing the Army & portraying themselves as great democrats.

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  • Asim Ali
    Apr 9, 2014 - 12:12PM

    If the parliament were supreme, state owned enterprises like PIA and railways would have been profitable, we would have been in top 3 of squash and hockey, our reserves would be adequate, there would have been no energy crises in the country, the wealthy would have been paying taxes, our civilians bureaucrats would have been the most sought after resources globally. So top with this mantra of civilian supremacy and start building the country.

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  • XFactor
    Apr 9, 2014 - 12:36PM

    @Khan

    Forgetting 79, which resulted in evolution of PMLN!!!.

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  • truth
    Apr 9, 2014 - 7:35PM

    with fake vote parliament can not be supreme…parliament full of corrupt politicians…who brought dollar from Rs 60 to 102

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  • Ali
    Apr 10, 2014 - 1:36AM

    Throughout the world, The army are loved by their nation. I have personally seen people throwing flowers on the convoy of Army. But in Pakistan, when Army convoy passes, every citizen, be it Government servant, Businessman and even defence forces employes abuses them. In densely populated cities, the army vehicles passes at speed of 70km/h without even caring that some child or elder person might come in road. Khwaja Asif is head of all 3 defence forces. As officers and OR in Army cant show their dissatisfaction or anger on the orders of any senior officer, same way Corpse commanders and Chief cant express their anger over the statements of Defence Minister. This is the legislature which puts them under control of Defence Minister. If army supreme officials wont abide by the law and would show collective anger over the statement, then what to expect of low scale Soldiers. Moreover, this act can be summarized as Mutiny of Supreme council of Army which has severe repercussions. My sincere request to Army is, ” Please own your people, own your country. Its not the number/count of uniform personell which makes you powerful but it is actually the backup of the Nation which is your true asset. A Common man is extremely terrorized by the army convoys and the uniform personell.”

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