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Saturday April 13, 2024

Imran under fire in Senate on writing to IMF

On recent SC decision, Senator Irfan Siddiqui says issue of the SC's decision was very sensitive, there was wave of emotions which was raised

By Mumtaz Alvi
February 24, 2024
PTI chief Imran Khan sits in his residence in Lahore in this image on April 5, 2023. — Facebook/Imran Khan
PTI chief Imran Khan sits in his residence in Lahore in this image on April 5, 2023. — Facebook/Imran Khan

ISLAMABAD: Former premier and PTI founding chairman Imran Khan came under fire in the Senate on Friday for his decision to write to the IMF for linking aid to Pakistan to first audit of the recently-held elections to its satisfaction.

On a point of public importance, PMLN Senator Irfan Siddiqui was on his feet to draw the House attention to the matter and asked who was his (Imran’s) target, PMLN, PPP or any other party or the government? “The target of this letter is the 240 million people of Pakistan, the poor people. No doubt, we have to rely on others. Khan Sahib himself had gone to the IMF during his rule but matters did not go well. All have gone to the donor agency in the past, but none does so out of excitement,” he noted. Imran, he said, believed and it was his right to say that the elections were rigged but did the PMLN write to the IMF regarding the 2018 elections despite having concerns? Instead, the opposition played its role in the parliament.

He recalled how a telephonic conversation between two ministers was caught in August 2022 and Fawad was on record to have said that Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa would not be responsible regarding the foreign aid and would not cooperate either. “Is stopping foreign aid is patriotism? And, what kind of patriotism is this? I don’t condemn this move and will not use any harsh word and just say it’s very unfortunate move. His anger enmity may be about the election commission, the judiciary or the military,” he said.

On a recent supreme court decision, Senator Irfan Siddiqui said the issue of the supreme court’s decision was very sensitive and there was a wave of emotions which was raised. “This wave of emotions goes forward towards terrorism.” He pointed out that the Supreme Court of Pakistan and bar councils had clarified the matter in detail, but some people were venting personal grudge against the chief justice. He emphasized that this matter should not be a reason to provoke emotions and bring it on social media and on streets. The talk on this matter, he contended, should end after it was announced to file a review petition with the apex court.

Earlier, on a point of public importance, Jamaat-e-Islami Senator Mushtaq Ahmed raised the matter of the apex court granting bail to an alleged Qadiani blasphemer and announced in the House to file a review petition against the judgment. He pointed out that there were legal, factual and logical issues involved in it and insisted: “The finality of the prophethood (PBUH) is a red line. We cannot leave even a small room to tweak it by any means.” The judgment, he pointed out, said the publication and distribution of misleading translations was not an offence under the Punjab Holy Quran Printing and Recording Act 2011, when the case was registered, which was factually incorrect. The offence under Section 9 of the Act prescribed a punishment of three years imprisonment and a fine of Rs 20,000 under the original law, which was later increased up to seven years imprisonment and Rs one hundred thousand fine.

Mushtaq said the judgment also mentioned some verses from the Holy Quran, having no relevance with the case, one of which meant “let there be no compulsion in religion. The mention of the verse gives an impression as if Qadianis were being oppressed, while it was otherwise way round”. He said another verse mentioned in the judgment meant “it is certainly We Who have revealed the Reminder, and it is certainly We Who will preserve it”. Mushtaq emphasized it was also the responsibility of the Islamic Ummah to protect the Holy Quran. The SC judgment, he continued, also refered to Article 20 and 22 of the Constitution, which guaranteed freedom to profess religion, but said these rights were subject to law and public order. He said the religious minorities in Pakistan enjoyed their rights, but Qadianis were not a traditional religious minority but were a mischievous force conspiring against Islam. He said Qadianis had been declared non-Muslims under Article 260 of the Constitution and made it clear that no judicial verdict or law could abrogate this article.

Responding to Senator Irfan Siddqui, PTI Senator Zeeshan Khanzada rose to clarify that Imran’s bid to write to the IMF was his principled stance that economic stability would be possible only after political stability. Shahadat Awan of the PPP explained that the apex court had only given its decision, concerning 295-C and the way the investigation was conducted, the related procedure was not adopted. He insisted that the apex court had not touched the related law. The supreme court, he noted, had only said that 295-C was not applicable in the case and that as per the law, an SP-level officer could conduct an inquiry, but in this case, a low-rank officer had done so. He said the chief justice of Pakistan had given references to Quranic verses and then also issued a statement for public satisfaction. “We should not create doubts about constitutional institutions and let them function. The matter can be referred to the House Standing Committee on Law and Justice to the satisfaction of members,” he said. Referring to the PTI leader’s decision to write to the IMF, Senator Awan cautioned against it and said the national economy was already in deep trouble. He regretted that such statements could add to the country’s problems.

PPP’s Senator Rubina Khalid urged desisting from the politics of hatred and said that all parties should admit that they failed to provide the much-needed relief to people. Citing Imran’s plans, she said the statements of anarchy and unrest should be avoided as the country had already reached a critical stage. “All should think that if a leader commits a mistake, instead of justifying it, we should reflect and hold him accountable for it,” she maintained. She asked for how long, the masses would be put at risk for personal political gains.