- Khursheed Shah says parliament is the only institution that can save the country
- Asif calls for arrest of Imran Khan, Sheikh Rasheed if they don’t come to parliament for explanation
- Bilawal says PPP has always respected parliament as he distances his party from PTI
- Khan sticks to his guns, says if called a poll most people would ‘condemn’ parliament
LAHORE: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan has drawn flak from all quarters, particularly from the National Assembly, after he cursed the parliament during a rally on Wednesday; however, he remained defiant as he refused to retract his comments.
Speaking at the rally, Khan had cursed the parliament for “making a criminal the president of a party” while referring to the approval of Election Act 2017 by the parliament that paved the way for ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif to become the head of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) after his disqualification.
NA RESOLUTION REPROACHES KHAN OVER OFFENSIVE REMARKS:
Reacting strongly to the statements made by Imran Khan and Awami Muslim League (AML) chief Sheikh Rasheed, the National Assembly condemned the tirade as it passed a resolution condemning Khan and Rasheed’s insolence.
All the major political parties, including ruling Pakistan Muslim League–Nawaz (PML-N), Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) and Awami National Party (ANP), unanimously condemned anti-parliament statements on the floor of the NA.
The resolution, presented by Federal Minister Baleeghur Rehman, stated that Imran and Rasheed’s open cursing of the parliament were akin to disrespecting the nation.
“The parliament is a department of democracy, with which the country’s stability and prosperity are tied up,” the unanimously passed resolution stated. “No other system can work in the country,” it declared.
It may be noted here that the members of the PTI were missing from the NA when the resolution was passed.
KHURSHEED SAYS CAN’T EVEN REPEAT THE REMARKS:
Speaking during the session, Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Khursheed Shah said that he had felt sorrow when he heard the remarks made by both the leaders against the house.
Shah said that the country has a chequered history, recalling that in the past 40 years, the parliament had seen many highs and lows. “There are politicians who have given unimaginable sacrifices for this parliament. I was 16-years-old when I went to jail for the first time,” he recalled.
He went on to say that the parliament is the only institution that could save the country as he went on to list the accomplishments of the house. He asserted that the parliament had written the Constitution of the country that had given Pakistanis the right to speak, right to ask for rights, to strengthen the institutions, and distribute power among them.
“This parliament made Pakistan a nuclear power, gave the country missile technology and stole power from dictators to give to the provinces,” the PPP leader said, adding that “the words that were used against the parliament… I cannot [even] speak about them.”
“We are hell bent on contempt of institutions,” he said, adding that even former prime minister Nawaz Sharif has been committing contempt against the institutions since his ouster. “Imran does the same,” Shah added.
He further said that numerous cases have been filed against the PPP over the years, but the party has never committed contempt against the institutions.
ASIF SAYS ARREST IMRAN, RASHEED IF THEY DON’T CALL IN FOR EXPLANATION:
Speaking during the session, Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif demanded that the opposition leaders –Imran Khan and Sheikh Rasheed— who had cursed the house should be summoned before the assembly for an explanation.
If they fail to appear, they should be arrested, he stressed.
The foreign minister said, “All limits were crossed in the [PAT-led opposition] rally,” adding that the “frustrations” of the opposition leaders knew no bounds.
He said that these leaders should be brought before a parliamentary committee. “They should be summoned, and if they still don’t come then arrest them and bring them here.”
“We will not permit this [language],” Asif said.
Being a democratic society, everyone has a right to campaign and seek votes as the elections are around the corner; however, no one has the right to abuse the parliament, he said.
The foreign minister also stated that the remarks made by Imran Khan against the parliament were the “lowest point of politics” and it has left the “nation’s head hanging in shame”.
PPP DISTANCES ITSELF FROM PTI:
Meanwhile, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari also distanced his party from the harsh language used for parliament during the rally. Bilawal tweeted: “The PPP respects Parliament and will always respect Parliament. [PPP] Cannot help the behaviour of others but will never endorse disrespecting Parliament.”
Federal Minister for Pakistan Railways Khawaja Saad Rafique also took to Twitter to criticise Imran’s comments by saying that it is a sin for one ‘Momin’ to use such derogatory language for another.
PUBLIC FLAYS IMRAN:
However, it was not just the political leadership which criticised Imran Khan over his unsavoury remarks about the parliament. Common people took to Twitter and other social media sites and showed their disdain over PTI leader’s use of non- parliamentary language.
Marvi Sirmed, a social and human rights activist, took to Twitter and questioned Khan over the very members of PTI who were part of the parliament he deemed unworthy and stated, “Why did your party not raise a single objection when the same law, with the same provisions, was being discussed in the Committee?”
PTI founding member Akbar S Babar also echoed the thoughts of Marvi Sirmed and stated, “How do you describe PTI Parliamentarians who facilitated passing of the same law in the Senate & your refusal to take any action against them? Salute to the people of Lahore for standing with hope on 30/10/2011 & showing their back to double-faced politics on 17/01/2018.”
Similarly another Twitter user, Asad Ali Shah questioned Imran Khan’s hypocrisy over being part of the very parliament that he lambasted and stated, “Sir you are part of that LAANTI Parliament, you should have the moral courage to resign and stop taking salaries from this LAANTI Parliament”.
Another user going by the name @politicslead on Twitter stated, “First Please return all the salaries benefits you and your parliamentarian’s MNA MPAs gain from this assemblies If not Lanaat on you your MNA MPAs”.
IMRAN STICKS TO HIS HARSH LANGUAGE:
Despite all criticism coming from strata of society, Imran Khan refused to budge from his comments. Hitting back at criticism over his anti-parliament comments, Khan said, “Parliament is the name of a building. It is the parliamentarians who take the parliament forward or destroy it.”
He also criticised Khawaja Asif for his stance in the National Assembly on Thursday, saying it was people like him and Nawaz who had destroyed the parliament.
“Give me a precedent of any assembly in the world which makes a law to favour a culprit who steals from the people and lies in the court,” said Khan. “What you actually did was make a thief sit on Pakistan’s coffers.”
He was referring to the Election Bill 2017, which was adopted by the National Assembly in October last year.
He also took to Twitter, saying, “When a Parliament, which must protect nation’s interests, passes a person-specific law allowing a disqualified person guilty of Rs3 bn in money laundering, tax evasion, concealment of assets, forgery and perjury to become head of a political party, then such a law is a ‘laanath’ on the parliament”.
“In fact in this specific context ‘laanath’ is a mild word to use. If anyone disagrees, I challenge them to do a public poll on what people think of such a parliament. I can guarantee most will condemn it,” the PTI leader concluded.
Earlier, Imran had also said while replying to AML chief Sheikh Rasheed offer of resigning from the NA, saying, “I think it is a good idea; I will talk to my party and if possibly soon join you in the act.”