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PTI finally falls back on NA over Panamagate case

ISLAMABAD: Having failed to win a verdict from the Supreme Court against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif over the Panamagate issue last week, the opposition Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) on Tuesday decided to end its boycott of the National Assembly.

Imran Khan talks to reporters on Tuesday.— DawnNews
Imran Khan talks to reporters on Tuesday.— DawnNews

This, however, will not be the first such decision by chairman Imran Khan; the PTI had also earlier ended boycott of parliament after his allegations that the 2013 elections had been rigged were adjudged to be untrue by a commission headed by the then chief justice of the Supreme Court.

Talking to reporters after presiding over a meeting of the party office-bearers and parliamentarians at his Banigala residence here on Tuesday, the PTI chairman announced that they had decided to end their boycott of the assembly in order to seek an explanation from Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for allegedly making a false statement about his foreign properties on the floor of the house.

The new session of the National Assembly begins on Wednesday (today).

Mr Khan said his party would move an adjournment motion as well as a privilege motion against the prime minister for his act of “lying to the parliament and the nation”.

The PTI announcement came hours after submission of a privilege motion by the main opposition Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) against the prime minister over the same issue.

PPP,PTI to move privilege motions against PM for ‘lying’on assembly floor; Imran says Sharif wants control over SC, army

The PTI chief had in October announced the boycott of the National Assembly till a decision of the Supreme Court in the Panama Papers case. Last week, the Supreme Court deferred the hearing of the case till the first week of January. Despite severe criticism from within and outside the PTI, Mr Khan remained stuck to his decision and the party also boycotted Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s address to a joint session of parliament last month.

Accompanied by PTI vice-chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Mr Khan said that through the adjournment motion his party would seek a full-fledged debate on the matter and see how parliamentarians made the prime minister accountable for making a “false statement” in parliament.

He said the PTI would decide its next strategy after seeing the response of parliament to the two motions the party planned to move in the National Assembly.

He claimed that the prime minister had made different statements in the Supreme Court and in parliament. In parliament, he added, the prime minister had stated that he had all the required documents to prove trail of the money used for purchasing properties in London, but in the court his lawyers failed to produce any document.

Moreover, Mr Khan said, the prime minister in his speech had claimed that Mayfair Apartments in London had been purchased from the money they had got after selling Gulf Steel in the UAE. Later the PTI proved in the court that Gulf Steel was actually suffering a loss of 2.6 million dirham, he added.

Mr Khan said Mr Sharif’s lawyers had termed the prime minister’s speech in parliament “a political speech”.

He said the Brazilian president had to face impeachment only because he had provided wrong figures about the budget to parliament. “Here, a prime minister is telling lies to conceal his corruption and properties worth billions of rupees,” he regretted.

In reply to a question, Mr Khan said it was the prime minister who had “discredited” parliament by lying on its floor, and not the PTI. “What will the opposition do in parliament if it cannot make the prime minister answerable there?” he said while responding to a question about criticism his party was facing over the decision to boycott the assembly.

He said that in the past whenever he brought people on roads he was accused of inviting martial law. However, he said, if he again decided to take to the streets, the people would not accuse him of inviting the army.

Mr Khan alleged that after having destroyed each and every institution, PM Sharif was now “eying” the Supreme Court and the army.

“Now Nawaz Sharif wants control over the SC and the army. He wants to convert the army into the Punjab police. I hope these two institutions will not disappoint the nation and will not come under their (rulers’) control,” he added.

He said he was disappointed with the apex court as he wanted a day-to-day hearing of the Panama Papers case. However, he said the PTI would wait for a final outcome of the case in the court.

Answering a question about the possibility of joining hands with the PPP which also threatened to launch an anti-government drive after Dec 27, Mr Qureshi said the PPP itself was divided over the issue.

He claimed that while the group led by Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and comprising Qamar Zaman Kaira, Aitzaz Ahsan and Sherry Rehman wanted to come out against the government, the other led by former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani wanted to use the issue as a bargaining chip over the issues of Ayyan Ali, arrest of Dr Asim Hussain and corruption cases against the party leadership.

PPP’s motion

Five PPP legislators, including Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Syed Khurshid Shah, on Tuesday submitted a privilege motion against the prime minister for allegedly committing “contempt of the parliament” by making a false statement on the floor of the assembly.

The motion has also been signed by Syed Naveed Qamar, Nafeesa Shah, Aijaz Jakhrani and Shazia Marri.

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