–Opposition boycotts NAB for not bringing PML-N president for lower house’s session on time
–Reports say Shehbaz and Zardari have agreed to work together
ISLAMABAD: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Lahore team on Monday brought former Punjab chief minister and Opposition Leader Shehbaz Sharif to Islamabad to attend National Assembly (NA) session as his production orders were issued earlier by the speaker of the house.
Shehbaz Sharif is currently in NAB’s custody in connection with Ashiana Housing Society case. The country’s top accountability watchdog had arrested the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) president over his alleged involvement in the multi-billion rupee housing scheme scam.
According to details, Shehbaz was supposed to travel to Islamabad from Lahore via a Pakistan International Airline (PIA) flight, which was cancelled at last moment. Following the cancellation of the flight, the NAB administration decided to use motorway to ensure Shehbaz’s attendance in the lower house of the parliament.
NAB authorities also took him to Islamabad’s Polyclinic for a check-up before the NA session.
Sharif’s delayed arrival in the Parliament House meant that he could not chair a meeting of PML-N’s parliamentary party, scheduled for an hour before the session’s start. In his absence, senior leaders Ahsan Iqbal and Khawaja Asif jointly led the meeting.
Talking to reporters after reaching the parliament, Sharif said NAB had avoided bringing him up via airplane on the pretext of different reasons. “They didn’t want to bring me to Islamabad in an airplane,” the opposition leader claimed, adding that the bureau had used the suspension of flight and unavailability of seats as an excuse.
“I was made to travel via the motorway despite I having back pain,” he said.
PROTEST AND BOYCOTT:
Meanwhile, the opposition staged a boycott against NAB for not bringing Shehbaz Sharif in the NA session on time.
The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) joined the PML-N during the protest.
PML-N MNA Rana Tanveer Hussain raised a point of order that despite the production order issued by the NA speaker, Opposition Leader Shehbaz Sharif could not be brought in the house, therefore, they would stage a walkout in protest.
Speaking in the assembly, Rana Tanveer alleged that NAB had caused a “deliberate” delay in producing the opposition leader. “NAB was supposed to bring the opposition leader for the session at 4pm,” he said, adding that the speaker’s production orders had not been complied with.
Boycotting the session, PML-N members then staged a walkout in protest, joined by the PPP and other opposition parties.
Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi urged the opposition members to end their boycott, saying “if this institution has to move forward, it has to do so using both its wheels [treasury and opposition]”.
“I request the respected members of the opposition to not render the entire house meaningless in this manner,” he said.
Speaker Qaiser then assigned Qureshi and State Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan the task of convincing the opposition members to return to the house.
The duo managed to cajole the opposition into returning to the session, with Qureshi thanking them for ending the boycott.
WALKING IN TOGETHER:
When the session resumed after an evening prayer break, Sharif was seen entering the assembly along with PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari.
It is pertinent to mention here that Shehbaz and Zardari have been at odds with each other owing to the harsh language used by the former against Zardari during public rallies in the past. Recently, the PPP had refused to back Shehbaz as prime ministerial candidate due to the same reason.
Both the PPP and PML-N have been recently trying to find common ground to create a joint opposition against the PTI government. However, some media reports stated on Monday that an understanding had been reached between the PML-N and PPP top leaders on working together inside and outside the parliament.
Moreover, during Monday’s session, the speaker administered the oath of office to 10 out of the 12 MNAs-elect who were elected in the by-polls earlier this month. Two prospective lawmakers were not present in the session.
The National Assembly session had been summoned at 4pm on Monday, with Prime Minister Imran Khan having called for a PTI parliamentary meeting ahead of the session.
The meeting was called to discuss strategy against the opposition’s All Parties Conference (APC) and protests planned in that regard.
Shehbaz also attended the previous NA session on October 17 during which he revealed the questions he was asked by the anti-graft body, adding that there is “an unholy alliance between NAB and the PTI”.
“A NAB official told me that there are no corruption allegations against me in the housing scheme case, but that I used my position to give the contract to former army chief General (r) Ashfaq Parvez Kayani’s brother to please him,” he said at the time.
RESOLUTION ON KASHMIR:
Furthermore, the NA unanimously passed a resolution condemning Indian state atrocities in occupied Kashmir.
Speaking on the issue, Federal Minister for Kashmir Affairs Ali Amin Gandapur noted that some 90,000 people had been killed by Indian forces in occupied Kashmir till date. As many as 140,000 people had been imprisoned and more than 13,000 women have been widowed, he added.