Opp criticises ban on using word ‘selected’ for PM

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Staff Report

ISLAMABAD

Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Monday questioned the decision to ban the lawmakers in the Lower House of Parliament from calling Imran Khan a “selected prime minister” in the National Assembly.

The PPP chief, addressing the Parliament, said “It’s quite weird to see you banning one word,” he added, referring to Deputy Speaker Qasim Khan Suri’s move to issue the Sunday ruling.

On Sunday, NA Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri had directed MNAs to refrain from using the word “selected” for the prime minister.

“This ban has been imposed because of the prime minister’s ego. None of the government’s words can be censored. You’re further fuelling the fire,” Bilawal added.

The PPP boss further commented that doing so “doesn’t mean that those problems go away,” he said, warning that “those problems fester and then they come back to haunt you later.”

“It’s very unfortunate that in Naya Pakistan, the space for democratic rights and human rights is receding,” he stressed.

The PPP chair further said “We respect this House [but] this House is being held a hostage.”

He spoke of how Shaheed — or martyred — former prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto had given Pakistan its constitution and Quaid-e-Azam talked of parliamentary democracy.

“This House is responsible for the rights of the people, and we’re their spokespeople,” Bilawal said. “If the House is not given its due respect, it will start portraying the setting from George Orwell’s novel.”

Bilawal further stated that history would not remember kindly the fact that ministers from North and South Waziristan were not allowed to vote in the budget session.

He urged National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser to issue the production orders for Ali Wazir and Mohsin Dawar stressing that not letting them participate in the session will not be short of rigging the budget.

Earlier, former president and PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari questioned the legitimacy of the move and said the PPP would hold consultations with lawyers to ascertain all possible legal options.

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) information secretary Marriyum Aurangzeb used the word “handpicked” after she was barred from using “selected” for Prime Minister Imran Khan in NA.

She added that the ‘incompetent’ premier has resorted to hurling threats at his political rivals after pushing the masses below the poverty line through his ‘anti-people budget’.

“The TV star prime minister addressed the nation twice in ten days … opposition was the target in one while traders were threatened in the other,” she remarked.

On the other hand, PPP Senator Sherry Rehman asked if the prime minister was not “selected”, then why using this word was being prohibited.

“This word uttered by Bilawal has become Imran Khan’s identification,” she said, adding that yesterday the premier had rang out applause on the use of the word ‘selected’ and today he has put a ban on using it.

She further said that the prohibition showed his insecurity and termed it “ridiculous.”

“If Imran Khan had been made a councillor of Mianwali, then the country wouldn’t have been in such a state today,” she added, adding that if such a person, who was ineligible to win a seat even of a councilor, is “selected as prime minister”, then obviously the country would be devastated.

Following the  debate, Federal Minister for Railways Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed termed it “inappropriate” to call elected prime minister “a selected one.”

“Shehbaz Sharif’s and my mother party is the same…We have never changed our party,” he said, adding that there two parties in the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).

“The one is Shehbaz League, and the other is Nawaz League…They don’t have the guts to hold a sit-in for 126 days,” he went on to say.

The railways minister said that PPP leader Khurshid Shah has said to make Jamiat Ulema-e Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Fazlur Rehman understand that an elected representative should not be called ‘selected’.

Furthermore, regarding the government’s reforms in the state institutions, Rashid said the government was determined to improve all institutions, and an attempt has been made to reduce the deficit by Rs3 to 4 billion.

Speaking on the budget debate earlier, PPP’s Hina Rabbani Khar criticised the federal budget 2019-20 and said that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government needed to focus on the economic development of the country.

She criticised the federal budget 2019-20 and said that Prime Minister Imran Khan had made promises to build university and provide development funds, however, provisions for neither had been made in the budget.

Rabbani said that the PTI government had been blaming the opposition for corruption, however, the need of the time was to understand that the opposition also wanted to work for the development of the country.