Bilawal backs Gandapur's demand for judicial commission over May 9 riots

Lawmakers condemn alleged raid at PkMAP chief Mahmood Khan Achakzai's residence in Quetta

By Web Desk
March 04, 2024
PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari surrounded by his party lawmakers after the SIC MNAs started their protest during his speech. — Screengrab/PTV Parliament

ISLAMABAD: In a ruckus-hit National Assembly (NA) session,Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Monday put weight behind the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Ali Amin Gandapur's call for the formation of a judicial commission to probe the May 9 riots.

Addressing the lower house session today, the PPP chairman urged Prime Minister-elect Shehbaz Sharif to request Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Qazi Faez Isa to constitute and lead an investigative commission to probe the violent riots triggered after the arrest of ex-prime minister Imran Khan in a graft case which led to military installations being targeted, vandalised across the country.


Stressing that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)and the other parties would have to accept the findings of the commission, Bilawal called on the stakeholders to come to a consensus on a national reconciliation charter and save the country from inflation.

He also appealed to his "friends" on the opposition benches to become part of the national political process. He said the people of Pakistan through their votes announced such a verdict following which they would be coerced to take decisions jointly.

"The masses of Pakistan are sending this message that they are fatigued by our infighting. If the people wanted, they would have given one political party a majority," he said adding that they all should work on national reconciliation and hold talks on the issues of national interest.

He said judicial and electoral reforms would have to be introduced and he would like the opposition to participate in bringing reforms so that no party would have to feel remorse over the next elections. So that, he said, the next time nobody could raise a finger whether Shehbaz won the election or “prisoner number 804”.

"You know how difficult it is to contest an election. Every day is a battle and the biggest battle is on the election day," he said.

Bilawal endorsed the invitation extended by PM-elect Shehbaz Sharif for the charter of reconciliation and said the opposition should respond positively to the offer and sit with the government to find a solution to the economic difficulties.

He emphasised that the political parties needed to hold a dialogue on the Charter of Reconciliation and the Charter of Economy.

The PPP chairman said the people were looking towards their elected representatives to lead the country out of the multidimensional challenges faced by the country including those on the economic front.

Bilawal requested the house members to protect the people from the economic crisis as commodity prices were multiplying but the income was not. He invited all the stakeholders to sit together and get Pakistan out of difficulty.

The former foreign minister said he differed with the leader of the opposition’s statement that their ideology was different. He claimed that Ayub would not know his party’s mandate as much as he did.

He said about nine years ago a family could buy edible commodities for Rs4,000 but now it requires at least Rs17,000.

The PPP chairman said it would be great if the opposition gave their opinion on PM Shehbaz’s policy, but if they did not opine on the policy then they did not have the right to object to it.

He reiterated that there were 18 such ministries that should have dissolved in 2015.

The PPP chief said those were his party’s points, while the SIC and other parties would also have their points to make.

Lamenting the protests by members of the House during the speeches of the PM-elect and leader of the opposition in Sunday's session, Bilawal said that the people were disappointed of seeing lawmakers hurl allegations and abuses at each other in the parliament.

Recalling Ayub's complaint that the opposition members' speeches were not being broadcast on the state-run PTV, Bilawal said: "We should not continue this tradition [of censorship] set by Khan sahib."

"We have to make decisions that strengthen this House and brighten the country's future," the PPP chairman said while stressing that the people have voted in the February 8 polls so as to bring themselves out of poverty.

"Our colleagues would have been able to listen to the prime minister's speech if they had not been protesting," he noted.

Judicial commission to probe cipher controversy

Responding to the remarks made by the PPP chairman regarding the cipher case, wherein the ex-prime minister Imran Khan's was sentenced to 10 years, Asad Qaiser called for the constitution of a judicial commission to investigate the controversy.

Khan was sentenced on the cases that the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) had termed as "lies", Qasier said while taking a jibe at the Shehbaz Sharif-led party.

Lamenting the alleged crackdown on party leadership and workers, the former NA speaker stressed that the PTI founder didn't flee — in the wake of the crackdown and legal woes — and will not compromise on his principles.

"Neither our leader nor we would compromise," he added while calling for the party leadership to be released along with the withdrawal of cases filed against top leadership, including Khan's wife, Bushra Bibi.

In response to Bilawal's remarks calling for stakeholders to sit together, Qaiser questioned whether the PPP supremo was unaware of the worst election rigging in the country's history in the February 8 polls.

Democracy losing its case

Expressing his views, Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) Convener Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui while seemingly referring to the political turmoil both inside and outside the parliament, lamented that "democracy is losing its case" as the country remains gripped in multi-faceted crises after 22 years of continued democracy.

Responding to the rigging allegations regarding the February 8 polls, Siddiqui said: "You were 'made to lose in the 2024 polls' the same way you 'were made to win' in the 2018 [elections]."

"Someone else would force the politicians to sit [together] if political forces do not engage in dialogue themselves," he noted.

To this, SIC members once again resorted to protests and slogans leading to Siddiqui's remarks to which the MQM-P leader said: "They [the opposition] don't understand [and] are getting angry when I'm talking in their favour".

House condemns raid at Achakzai's house

At the start of the National Assembly session, lawmakers condemned the alleged raid at the residence of Pashtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) Chairman Mahmood Khan Achakzai in Quetta.

On his turn to address, the PPP chairman said he came across the news of the raid at Achakzai’s house which he condemned and appealed to Balochistan Chief Minister Sarfraz Bugti to investigate the incident.

He said the PkMAP chairman was a presidential candidate too and the presidential election was being made controversial through the incident.

NA Speaker Ayaz Sadiq said he was unaware of the happening.

The PPP chief requested the speaker to allow Achakzai to speak as he probably wanted to say something.

Achakzai then apprised the House that his 200 relatives and friends had died in the fight inflicted upon his house for the last 15 years. He said the political parties would have to sit together to rescue the country out of the crisis.

Slamming the raid, PTI leader Omar Ayub said they would present a resolution in the NA against the incident.

Ayub also raised objection over his NA speech not being telecasted live on media. When the PTI leader tried to talk about Punjab Chief Minister Maryam Nawaz, his mic was muted.

The speaker said as per the rules you could not say such a thing. When Sadiq allowed him to speak again, Ayub demanded the removal of the Punjab inspector general holding him responsible for a young PTI worker’s getting injured. He also requested the custodian of the house to level responsibility for the incident on CM Maryam.

The PTI leader also presented a motion of privilege against stopping his speech.