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Chaos in Pakistan Parliament; lawmakers hurl abuses

Islamabad: The Pakistan National Assembly witnessed some unruly scenes on June 15 over Imran Khan government’s budget proposals.

During the sitting of the House, members of the treasury benches created chaos on the floor and even abused other parliamentarians, according to a video of the incident. The proceedings of the lower house were adjourned by the Speaker after the incident.

The chaos broke out when Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) president and Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif addressed the House.

According to the video, which is now going viral, Sharif was greeted by jeers, slogans, and whistles from the treasury members as soon as he started speaking.

“Imran Khan Niazi promised 10 million jobs. Where are those jobs?” asked Sharif. “Where are the USD 300bn that was supposed to be brought back to the country from abroad?”

Continuing to lash out at the government, he said that PM Imran Khan’s claims of eliminating corruption from Pakistan were hollow.

“Pakistan is suffering from the worst form of corruption today,” he said. “No act of posting or transferring someone these days is done without an element of corruption these days,” added Shahbaz.

He criticized the government’s budget, saying that it had failed to provide relief to the masses from unemployment and inflation, Geo News reported citing the video.

The lawmakers were then seen fighting on the floor of the House and throwing copies of the budget.

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Imran responsible for Pak’s ‘prevailing woes’: Sharif

Lahore: Former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif addressed the PDM opposition alliance’s final power show in Lahore, during which he accused his successor Imran Khan for the country’s “prevailing woes”, the media reported.

Despite the Pakistan government’s ban on holding public rallies in the wake of the unabated Covid-19 pandemic, the Pakistan Democratic Movement held the power show, dubbed as ‘first phase’ at the city’s Minar-i-Pakistan, The Express Tribune reported.

Sharif addressed the rally via video-link from London, where he has been residing since last year for medical treatment.

In his speech, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) chief said that Khan was not only responsible for the country’s situation but also those who brought him into power.

“They pushed the country into unprecedented inflation and unemployment,” the ousted premier said, adding that Khan’s supporters were minting money out of the wheat and sugar crisis.

He further said that if the incumbent “fake regime” continues to be in form, it will further “jeopardize the country’s security”.

“Time has come to get freedom from this selected set-up,” Sharif said, adding the country can never prosper without a change in system and under “hijacked democracy”, The Express Tribune reported.

Other opposition leaders who addressed the rally were PDM convener and Jamiat Ulema Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz and Pakistan Peoples’ Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, among others.

The rally comes after PDM announced on December 8 that all parliamentarians belonging to its constituent parties would submit their resignations from the national and provincial assemblies December 31 in a last-ditch attempt against the incumbent Imran Khan-led government.

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) also announced that by-elections would be held if the National Assembly speaker accepted the resignations of the opposition lawmakers from the lower house of parliament.

The PDM has been holding public rallies across Pakistan without permission from district authorities to hold them in the wake of the current Covid-19 situation.

The five earlier PDM rallies were held on October 16 in Gujranwala, October 19 in Karachi, October 25 in Quetta, November 22 in Peshawar and November 30 in Multan.

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Nawaz Sharif attacks Pak Army and ISI chief

Karachi: Pakistan’s deposed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has blamed Army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa and ISI chief Lt Gen Faiz Hameed for the current political situation in the country, as the Opposition parties held their third massive joint rally against Prime Minister Imran Khan-led government.

The Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), a coalition of 11 Opposition parties, was formed to oust Imran Khan from power on September 20. The alliance held two massive back-to-back gatherings in Gujranwala and Karachi this month. The third rally was held in Quetta, capital of the restive Baluchistan province, on Oct 25.

Addressing the gathering via video link from London, the three-time Prime Minister and chief of the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) again blamed Army chief Bajwa and ISI Director General Hameed for Pakistan’s current situation.

“Gen Bajwa, you will have to answer for record rigging in the 2018 elections, for horse-trading in Parliament, for making Imran Niazi Prime Minister against people’s wishes and [by] tearing apart the Constitution and laws, for pushing people towards poverty and hunger,” 70-year-old Mr. Sharif said.

Sharif, who is entangled in a number of corruption cases, has been in London since November last year after the Lahore High Court granted him permission to go abroad for four weeks for treating the heart disease and an immune system disorder.

He also accused the ISI chief of “interfering in politics for several years with impunity” in violation of his oath. Mr. Sharif said that he names individuals “because I don’t want my Army to be defamed”.

Pakistan’s Army has denied meddling in politics. Prime Minister Khan also denies that the Army helped him win the election in 2018.

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Livid Imran Khan vows to jail Nawaz Sharif

Islamabad: As the joint opposition movement held its second rally on Oct 19, a visibly upset and angry Prime Minister Imran Khan told a conference of his supporters in Islamabad that he would get “tougher” with the opposition leaders and put them all behind bars.

“Come back and see where I put you,” he said in reference to exiled former prime minister and PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif, at whom he largely directed his ire. “Now I will try my best to bring you back and put you in common prison, not VIP.”

Khan told his supporters that the 11-party Pakistan Democratic Movement’s (PDM) thrust was to create a rift between his government, the judiciary and the army.

“I will not let that happen,” said Khan, who also made fun of PML-N vice president Maryam Nawaz, whom he called a ‘Naani’ (grandmother).

Commenting on the joint rally of the opposition parties, Khan termed it as a “circus”.

Hitting back at Sharif, Khan said that the PML-N supremo came to politics by “polishing General Zia’s shoes” – a reference to Sharif joining politics in 1980s during the martial law of then military dictator General Zia-ul Haq.

Other ministers attacked PDM leaders over the weekend. Railways minister Shaikh Rasheed, seen to be close to the military, told a press conference, “Now it is a free for all. We will not hold back”.

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Pak Oppn to hold massive anti-govt rally on Oct 16

Lahore: Pakistan’s Opposition parties will hold their first combined rally against the Imran Khan-led government on October 16.

The move comes weeks after launching an alliance to seek the ‘selected” Prime Minister’s resignation and an end to the role of the powerful military in the country’s politics.

On September 20, the leaders of 11 major Opposition parties formed the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) to launch a three-phased anti-government movement under an action plan starting with countrywide public meetings, protest demonstrations and rallies before a decisive long march towards Islamabad in January 2021.

The Opposition parties have agreed to hold their first anti-government rally on October 16 in Gujranwala city in Punjab province, convener Ahsan Iqbal of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) said at a media briefing

According to Iqbal, the PDM would hold its second public meeting in Karachi on October 18, third in Quetta on October 25, fourth in Peshawar on November 22, fifth in Multan on November 30 and the last one in Lahore on December 13.

While the alliance has appointed Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman as its first phase President, Iqbal said that members of the steering committee had unanimously elected Raja Pervez Ashraf of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) as senior vice-president, whereas PML-N’s Shahid Khaqan Abbasi had been nominated as its secretary general.

Shehbaz Sharif complains of ‘inhuman’ treatment

Pakistan Leader of Opposition Shehbaz Sharif, who was arrested last month by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) after the Lahore High Court rejected his bail plea in a money laundering case, said that he was being humiliated and subjected to cruelty in custody.

The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President made the remarks when he appeared before the Lahore High Court’s presiding Judge Jawadul Hassan on Oct 5, reports Dawn news.

Sharif said that it was a known fact that he had been suffering from a severe backache for the last 25 years.

“I have been humiliated and subjected to cruelty during the remand despite my known medical history,” he added.

Following his complaint, Judge Hassan expressed serious concern and warned the NAB that officials needed to treat him with respect as Sharif was also a former Chief Minister of Punjab province.

But an NAB prosecutor denied the allegations, adding that Sharif was not even kept in a lock-up but in a dispensary instead, Dawn news reported.

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Pakistan courts nail oppn leaders Sharif, Zardari

Lahore: Pakistan’s Leader of the Opposition and PML-N chief Shahbaz Sharif was arrested in Lahore while an anti-corruption court in Islamabad indicted former president Asif Ali Zardari in a money laundering case, days before joint Opposition’s planned protests to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Shahbaz, the younger brother of three-time former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, was taken into custody from the Lahore High Court’s premises, where a large number of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) workers gathered ahead of the hearing in the Rs 700 crores (USD 41.9 million) money laundering case.

A two-member LHC bench headed by judge Sardar Ahmed Naeem rejected Shahbaz’s bail plea after hearing the arguments from the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) team and his lawyer.

The NAB arrested Shahbaz and took him to its Lahore’s detention centre. It will produce him to the accountability court for his physical remand.

The Imran Khan government last week filed the money laundering case against 69-year-old Shahbaz, who served as chief minister of Punjab province from 2008 to 2018, and his family.

PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz strongly criticized the arrest of her uncle and party president Shehbaz, saying he was being “punished” for standing by his brother Sharif’s side.

Reacting to the development, Pakistan People’s Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said “political victimization of the opposition continues during a global pandemic”.

Pakistan’s major opposition parties have demanded “immediate” resignation of Prime Minister Khan and planned countrywide protests next month to oust his government.

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