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September 19, 2020

Joint sitting: Opposition accuses govt of rigging in vote count

Top Story

September 19, 2020

ISLAMABAD: The opposition parties Friday said they were never against the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) related legislation but only those two bills which involved violation of basic human rights and freedom of people.

Addressing a press conference here, Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) Secretary General Ahsan Iqbal and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leader Sherry Rehman said the worst kind of rigging was committed in vote count during the joint sitting of the parliament. They said the opposition parties had even extended every possible cooperation to the government on the vital issue. “So much so,the government accepted our amendment to these laws,” Ahsan Iqbal said.

However, he added, the opposition strongly opposed those two bills which were against basic human rights and freedom of people. He regretted the government was using the FATF as a pretext to victimise the opposition leaders and calling them traitors. He demanded Prime Minister Imran Khan give explanation for levelling allegations during his speech on the floor of the National Assembly.

Ahsan said: “We do not want a country where the state intrudes in laptops, mobile phones and private properties of citizens by using the name of FATF,” he said adding the government wanted to impose dictatorial and draconian laws on the people. He said the speaker, for the first time in the history, allowed open rigging in the National Assembly, turning majority into minority. “As to why the speaker was afraid of recounting if the government members were in majority,” he said.

Ahsan Iqbal said though some opposition members were absent from the house, they were still in majority. “For the first time in the country’s history, open rigging was witnessed in the National Assembly,” the PML-N leader said. He said the PTI government also wanted to turn the country into one-party and fascist system, which the opposition was not ready to allow.

Ahsan said Imran Khan, during his speech in the National Assembly, also gave an impression that the opposition wanted to escape accountability. “We have already suffered in the name of your accountability and came out of custody after getting bail from the Supreme Court or a high court,” he said adding now it was the government leader’s turn to face accountability. He questioned as to why the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) was reluctant to nab those PTI people who were behind the failed BRT Peshawar project, sugar, medicines and wheat crimes.

He said the PM wanted to use term of money-laundering to victimise the opposition whereas he himself and his party leaders laundered record money in the name of foreign funding. “Why he is escaping from the foreign funding case,” he said.

Ahsan also warned the government to refrain from rigging in elections in Gilgit-Baltistan, scheduled for Nov 15. “We want free and transparent elections in Gilgit-Baltistan as it is a very sensitive issue,” he said.

Sherry Rehman also criticised the government and the prime minister for labelling the opposition as traitor. “We ourselves and our children are living in this country and we are well aware of national interests,” she said. She said the government included many those clauses in legislation which had nothing to do with the FATF requirements.

She said as to how the opposition should allow the government to play with basic human rights in the name of FATF. She said how the institutions like State Bank of Pakistan could be allowed to act as investigation agencies.

She said the opposition parties were united for the sake of national interests and democracy and there were no more big or small opposition parties. “We will take along all the opposition parties with us,” she said.

The PPP leader also expressed her apprehensions about elections in Gilgit-Baltistan saying the PM should take parliamentary party leaders in Senate and National Assembly into confidence at a briefing on the issue.

She said in the past also the country was brought out of grey list of the FATF but then the government never staged dramas in the parliament for the purpose. To a question, Ahsan Iqbal said they were addressing the joint press conference after taking the JUI-F leadership into confidence.

Responding to the opposition’s statements, Adviser to Prime Minister on Political Communication Shahbaz Gill said opposition is behaving like grapes are sour for them. He said in a statement that the opposition initially fully opposed the FATF-related legislation, after its passage, it suddenly started supporting it. He asked the opposition should tell why it was opposing the legislation?