Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif on Friday accused the government of “pushing the opposition against the wall” as he condemned the arrest of his niece Maryam Nawaz and nephew Yousuf Abbas Sharif by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
During his speech on the floor of the National Assembly in an ongoing session of the lower house, Shehbaz repeated his claim that the government and NAB “were in an alliance”. He regretted that Maryam was arrested in front of her father and children.
A day earlier, PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari had vehemently denounced the government on Maryam’s arrest and walked out of the NA session in protest. She had been arrested in the Chaudhry Sugar Mills case from Kot Lakhpat jail, where she was visiting her father Nawaz Sharif.
During today’s session, Shehbaz said: “This is not the first time we have suffered this injustice. My hair has turned white, we have seen all of this before.”
“Imran Khan Niazi is deluded if he thinks he can scare us with injustice and cruelty, that he can force Nawaz Sharif and his family to give in,” the PML-N president added.
Shehbaz’s speech was interrupted by sloganeering from the treasury and opposition benches, which irked Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri, who was presiding over today’s proceedings. When an opposition member claimed that a “term banned by the speaker was affecting him”, Suri responded: “Nothing is affecting me. The prime minister of this house is elected, just like the opposition leader is elected.”
Suri was referring to the word ‘selected’ that was repeatedly used by the opposition for Prime Minister Imran until National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser ordered that the word be expunged from records and banned its usage.
Continuing with his speech amid the chaos, Shehbaz said that the assembly had decided to present a “united stance” after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to strip occupied Kashmir of its special status but the government, with the arrest of Maryam, had shredded that unity.
“She had been appearing before NAB regularly. She had only asked NAB officials to allow her to appear at 3pm as she had to meet her father in prison,” he told the assembly. “These arrests are meant to divert the nation’s attention from the Kashmir issue, the failing economy and soaring drug prices.”
“I can see that you are giving me looks Mr Speaker,” Shehbaz said when Suri asked him to cut his speech short. “All I want to says that though the government is pushing us against the wall, it will be them who will be crying at the end.”
Govt cannot answer NAB
Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan refuted Shehbaz’s allegations that government was “in league with NAB” and said: “You should explain in the court why you recevied billions of dollars from abroad. The government of Pakistan cannot answer NAB.”
In response to opposition members allegations that the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government was trying to distract the nation from the Kashmir issue, the state minister recalled that the Indian premier had flown in to Pakistan on the occasion of former premier Nawaz’s granddaughter’s wedding.
“Today they are chanting slogans but just a few years ago […] was it Imran Khan who invited Narendra Modi, who murdered Muslims in India, to a wedding?”
Former premier Raja Pervez Ashraf, meanwhile, said that the government should put aside its differences with the opposition and adopt a united stance in the face of the ongoing Kashmir crisis.