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ISLAMABAD: The two major opposition political parties - Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan People's Party (PPPP) - appeared divided over the question of no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Imran Khan and Speaker National Assembly Asad Qaiser.

It appeared during a joint press conference of the opposition political parties leadership including opposition leader Shehbaz Sharif, PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and JUI-F leader Asad Mahmood together with other opposition leaders after they boycotted proceedings of the joint sitting of the Parliament, blaming the speaker for "undemocratic attitude" and "crossing the redlines".

While responding to a question whether the opposition would like to move a no-confidence motion against the prime minister and the speaker, the PML-N President, Shehbaz Sharif, said that all the decision would be taken in the upcoming All-Parties Conference (APC) of the opposition scheduled for September 20th.

However, the PPP Chairman, Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, stated that he believed that no confidence motions would be moved against the prime minister and the speaker National Assembly.

"When they [government] were in short of the numbers for legislation, we will see how they can manage [to the defeat the motions], when there will be voting to save the Prime Minister and the Speaker," Bilawal remarked, adding that the time had arrived that the opposition should take "tough" decisions.

The opposition leader also strongly criticized the speaker for his alleged "undemocratic attitude", saying that it was "black day" in the parliamentary history, when the speaker disallowed the opposition members to present their opinions on the legislation.

"He [Speaker] crossed the "redlines" by adopting a very "inappropriate and undemocratic attitude" and taking dictation from the "selected" prime minister not to allow the opposition members to present their views on the bills," Shehbaz Sharif maintained.

He said that he personally requested the speaker to allow the PPP chairman to speak over the bills.

"But unfortunately, he did not allow him [Bilawal] and even declined to allow the movers of the amendments to present their opinions," he added.

Shehbaz said the speakers had crossed a red line and the opposition had been forced to deliberate on what course of action to take over such unacceptable conduct, which forced the opposition to boycott the joint session.

He said that the opposition understands the crucial nature of the legislation more than the government, and had come up with the most comprehensive amendments in true spirit of nationalism and patriotism, "not for any personal benefit".

Shehbaz also slammed the accusation that the opposition was seeking "NRO" as a bargain to help pass the FATF-related legislation.

"The leaders from PPP and PML-N have already braved imprisonment over fake cases, and are still facing the NAB, while others are in jails...Why would they want an NRO now?" he asked.

He said that the opposition "genuine" amendments to the bills were not entertained, adding that he would register a strong protest against the speaker for not letting him speak.

PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said what happened in the joint session was "autocratic and dictatorial", adding that such practices were not even witnessed during the parliaments under the dictatorial regimes of Gen Zia and Gen Musharraf.

He said PPP and the opposition could not allow such "dangerous" precedents to be set for parliamentary democracy in Pakistan, "which is strong and tough decision need to be taken in the APC".

Bilawal said the opposition leaders were already facing "supra constitutional" and "illegal abductions" and imprisonment under government's political victimization, adding that they were the ones least affected by the legislation related to the anti-money laundering.

"It is the businessmen and ordinary citizens that will be worst affected with this legislation, which usurp constitutional rights by mandating arrest without warrant, no rights to bail and unquestioned detention," he added.

He maintained that the speaker not only violated all rules and norms but also rejected call for recount of votes, which showed the treasury benches were lacking the required numbers.

He said the opposition suspects the speaker counted government advisers as well during the voting, which was why the matter would be deliberated upon in the APC and challenged at "an appropriate forum".

Responding to a question about the presence of 200 of the treasury and 190 members of the opposition in the joint sitting, the PML-N parliamentary leader Khawaja Asif claimed that the opposition was in majority in the Wednesday's joint sitting and the speaker also counted the advisers in the strength of the treasury members.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020

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