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The lawmakers belonging to Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) on Thursday staged a protest outside the Parliament House against, what they called, 'victimization' of opposition leaders by National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
The protest by the two major opposition political parties took place a day after the top anti-graft body arrested senior PPP leader Khursheed Shah for keeping assets beyond means.
Shah became the latest high-profile opposition leader arrested by NAB as Co-Chairman PPP Asif Ali Zardari along with his sister Faryal Talpur are already in jail in graft cases.
Talking to journalists, senior PML-N leader Khawaja Asif said the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) had completely paralyzed the Parliament, as it had become redundant due to inflated ego of Prime Minister Imran Khan.
"The opposition members are being persecuted on baseless and trumped-up charges and this is being done at the behest of the Prime Minister as his government is hand in glove with the NAB," he alleged.
Asif flayed the government for the arrest of Shah, saying he was taken into custody during the assembly session, adding that political tensions could escalate sharply if that remained the attitude of the government.
PPP leader Naveed Qamar seconded his opposition colleague Asif and condemned the arrests and consequent treatment of opposition leaders. Instead of real accountability, he said, that 'selected' government was more interested in conducting media trials of its political opponents, which was not acceptable.
He warned the government to stop running the Parliament as if it was the parliamentary party of the PTI. "I want to tell the government that it must not try to run the National Assembly like its own parliamentary party, as it is not acceptable to us," he maintained.
Asif and Qamar also came down hard on Speaker National Assembly Asad Qaiser, saying he had miserably failed to issue production orders for the jailed parliamentarians, which showed he was openly defying the parliamentary rules.
Asif warned that the opposition's protest would escalate if the NA speaker did not meet their demand, adding that attendance of the incarcerated members of opposition was a must in the assembly.
The opposition members were holding the pictures of their jailed leaders and chanting anti-government slogans. They threatened to continue their protests if the NA speaker did not issue the production orders. The protesting MPs also donned black arm bands to highlight their cause.
The MPs arrested by the NAB in different cases include former president and PPP Co-Chairman Asif Zardari, ex-premier Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, former finance minister Miftah Ismail, former railways minister Saad Rafique, Ali Wazir, Mohsin Dawar, Rana Sanaullah, and Khursheed Shah.
Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif was also arrested last year and is currently out on bail. Other senior leaders of opposition parties including ousted premier Nawaz Sharif, PML-N vice presidents Maryam Nawaz and Hamza Shahbaz, and PPP's Faryal Talpur are also currently imprisoned.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2019


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