Opposition walkouts from NA are ‘pressure tactics’ to evade accountability: PM Khan

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday lashed out at the opposition for disrupting National Assembly proceedings by staging regular walkouts.

In a tweet, the prime minister said that the constant walkouts indicated that this was “the only function they (opposition) intend to perform”.

He claimed that walkouts are used as “pressure tactics” to “seek an NRO (National Reconciliation Ordinance) and evade accountability for corruption in NAB (National Accountability Bureau) cases not initiated by PTI (Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf)”.

In another tweet, the prime minister wondered if democracy for the opposition meant “immunity from corruption”.

“It seems for them being elected is a license to plunder the country,” he added.

Prime Minister Khan’s tweets come hours before the commencement of a National Assembly sitting. So far, the current assembly has had 34 sittings, out of which the premier has attended six, including the one held for his election as premier. The opposition has staged several walkouts from the NA since the new government came to power last year.

The ruling party and opposition members are embroiled in a back-and-forth over accountability, with the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government accusing the opposition of trying to escape accountability, while the opposition has accused the government of using state institutions for political gain.

Multiple opposition leaders, including Leader of the Opposition in the Parliament Shahbaz Sharif, are facing corruption cases filed by NAB and other law enforcement agencies. Shahbaz and former railways minister Khawaja Saad Rafique are currently under the custody of the anti-corruption watchdog and are only able to attend assembly sessions due to the production orders issued by Speaker Asad Qaiser.

PPP leaders Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and Asif Ali Zardari, who are both members of assembly, are also nominated in a fake accounts scam, that is being probed by the Federal Investigation Agency as well as NAB.

NA Speaker Asad Qaiser has been struggling to complete the process of formation of house committees.

The delay in the formation of over three dozen committees has badly affected the legislative work of parliament, and the National Assembly is functioning with only two committees, including the Public Accounts Committee, that was formed last month after a deadlock between the government and opposition over naming Shahbaz Sharif as chairman of the committee was broken.

Reaction to prime minister’s tweets

Prime Minister’s aide Mirza Shahzad Akbar agreed with his leader and said that attending the National Assembly session was used as a “pretext” to escape accountability.