As the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Assembly resumed session on Monday, the opposition seemed interested only in former minister Ziaullah Afridi’s arrest and the entire fiasco surrounding the Ehtesab Commission.
Even though a sitting treasury member was put behind bars, the government was in no mood to waste time worrying about Afridi. Rather a resolution against Muttahida Qaumi Movement was on the cards, only postponed due to the intentions of opposition members.
The debate was fuelled when Speaker Asad Qaiser admitted that he was neither informed nor was he requested for permission before Afridi’s arrest. This prompted opposition parties to question the methods adopted by the commission.
Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl’s Zarin Gul demanded an explanation in this regard. Pakistan Peoples Party lawmaker Nighat Orakzai voiced concerns in harmony and demanded Qaiser take the commission to task over the arrest.
Following the ‘revised’ party line, Anisa Zeb Tahirkheli did little to embarrass Qaumi Watan Party in front of its imminent coalition members. She lauded the arrest but agreed with the questions raised by the opposition regarding Qaiser’s permission. She emphasised on the due process of law taking its course. Bakht Baidar said he himself was accused of corruption by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan but nothing was ever proved.
Awami National Party’s Sardar Hussain Babak diverted the house’s attention towards media reports stating a list of 100 MPAs and government officials accused of corruption has been compiled. “Former chief minister Amir Haider Hoti’s name is also being taken,” he said. “Our media trial has officially started. Ministers openly talk about arresting him.” He questioned CM Pervez Khattak’s powers to direct the EC to arrest anyone he wants.
A cabinet member, Shah Farman, was quick to respond. He said it is his party’s agenda to uproot corruption and asked Babak to prove his claims. “No one is being victimised. Whoever steals public money would not be spared even if he is Shah Farman himself,” he said. He agreed the EC legislation might have shortcomings. Farman and Minister for Education Atif Khan both urged opposition members to put forward constructive recommendations in this regard. “There is no need to arrest an officer or MPA if he is cooperating during investigation. An arrest should be made only when the charges are proved,” Atif added.
Meanwhile Awami Jamhoori Ittehad Pakistan’s Babar Salim accused his own party chief, Senior Minister Shahram Tarakai, of nepotism. He presented documents allegedly sent by party secretariat to Gajju Khan Medical College principal for an appointment. He added, “If Afridi can be arrested for illegal appointments, why not Tarakai?”
Opposition leaders said they want Afridi to appear before the house during the next day of proceedings. The session was adjourned until Tuesday (today).
Published in The Express Tribune, August 4th, 2015.
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