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ISLAMABAD: The government and the opposition Wednesday locked horns over the proposed amendments to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) laws, as the later accused the PTI government of political point scoring on an important legislation.

The House witnessed uproar after a fiery speech by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) parliamentary leader Khawaja Asif in response to Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi's statement in the House Tuesday, in which he had alleged the opposition for blocking the accountability process and key legislation related to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

To present the opposition's point of view, Khawaja Asif accused Foreign Minister Qureshi for "crossing all the limits" by disclosing details of an informal meeting of a nine-member committee comprising opposition and government lawmakers to finalise recommendations for the parliamentary committee on legislative business on four key bills related to the FATF and on the NAB laws.

"The details were supposed to have been kept secret, but the foreign minister wanted to do politics by creating an impression that the opposition is against accountability as well as against the legislation related to the FATF," Asif said.

He also criticised the foreign minister for skipping in his Tuesday's speech in the House that the opposition had already reached a consensus on the two bills related to the FATF.

However, in the NAB laws, he added that the opposition only wanted to make sure that future laws were not used for political victimization.

"We cannot allow 90 days' detention under the pretext of economic terrorism," he said, adding that his party leader Rana Sanaullah had to face a fabricated drug case against him.

"We are not making these laws to save our skins, but to correct the errors in laws made previously by the Musharraf government," he added.

Asif also criticised the NAB references against the opposition leaders including against Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and others.

"There is nobody corrupt in the entire Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa...The one-way traffic of the NAB has been diverted to the people sitting on the opposition benches," he maintained.

While on the other hand, he continued that the KP government abolished Ehtesab Commission and "they have sought immunity in all the cases against them in the NAB as well as in the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) - foreign funding case."

He also stated that the foreign minister in his speech had denied that the government was seeking extension of the NAB chairman, prosecutor general and others.

In fact, he added that there was a draft of the bill shared with the opposition in which the government was seeking extension; however, it was withdrawn after the opposition's objection.

"We have no objection on the accountability process whether you initiate it from 1999 or 1947...But to those who have been accepting valuables from women and donations in the name of saints...shame on him," he said, without naming the foreign minister who is also a custodian of a shrine in his home constituency - Multan.

"This is not accountability but political victimization. I would not name, but some people are a disgrace to the name of politics...Didn't you meet me prior to your meeting with Nawaz Sharif and followed by a meeting with General Pasha before the 2018 general elections?", he asked, again without naming anyone.

The foreign minister took the floor several times on personal explanation, but the opposition lawmakers did not let him speak by creating rumpus in the house with loud sloganeering despite repeated instructions by the Chair to keep the house in order and allow Qureshi to speak on the personal explanation, saying that he has the right to speak on personal explanation.

The Chair asked Qureshi to continue his speech, but he refused do so, unless the House is in order.

However, Federal Minister for Communications Murad Saeed responded to the opposition, accusing it of attempting to seek relief from the government for their alleged corruption.

"Prime Minister Imran Khan will not give any such "NRO"...the accountability process will continue and there will be no compromise on it," he added.

The noisy protest forced the Chair to suspend proceedings on three occasions: twice when Qureshi refused to speak amid the opposition's slogans.

Earlier, PPP's Raja Pervez Ashraf, while taking the floor stated that the accountability should be across the board, and also accused the government of political point scoring on the key legislation.

He pointed out that bills related to the FATF were pending before the committee for the last six months because the adviser on finance was not attending the committee meeting. "Don't blame the opposition for the delay, as it was your fault," he added.

Referring to the ordinance related to the Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav, he said: "If you speak for Kulbhushan Jadhav, why don't you speak for our fishermen who are languishing in the Indian jails?"

"Foreign Minister Sahib! Are you foreign minister of Pakistan or of the India? Why aren't you speaking for the retired colonel who was kidnapped by India from Nepal?" he asked.

The lawmakers of Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) also staged a walkout from the House, blaming the PPP's Sindh government of deliberately depriving people of Karachi of their rights and failure to resolve the civic issues of the city.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020