ISLAMABAD – Staff Reporter:
Opposition members walked out of the Senate session on Thursday over remarks made by Information Minister Shibli Faraz.
The members had initially tried to stop Faraz from making a policy statement on CPEC. He asked for the deputy chairman’s permission to speak, but the opposition members interjected and didn’t let him speak.
“I want to give a policy statement under Article 265,” Faraz said. The opposition members said that the Senate should discuss its set agenda first and then the floor should be given to the information minister.
No agenda is more important than the country, said Faraz. “They are trying to spread chaos and stop the proceedings. I assure you that I will give a balanced policy statement and will uncover the different conspiracies against the government.”
Some Senate members booed his statement and got up from their seats in protest.
Deputy Chairman Saleem Mandviwalla requested the senator to calm down and let the information minister make his speech.
Faraz started off by speaking about CPEC and the recent CPEC law presented in the National Assembly. “This project is not between two political parties. It is between two governments and nations. No one will be able to derail it. To give the project more prominence we set up an authority and the opposition objected to it.” The opposition doesn’t let anyone work for the country’s benefit, he claimed, adding that they keep rejecting all the government’s efforts to bring new laws.
This angered some opposition members such as Senator Sherry Rehman and they made noise to stop him from speaking.
“Faraz sahab, do you not remember when we were together in the opposition we also used to oppose ordinances too?” Mandviwalla told Faraz.
“That was a different time,” said the information minister. “Back then, the government did not have the same limitations that we do now. The opposition has even opposed some issues of public importance. They claim to be the caretakers of democracy but look at their actions. They don’t even have the courage to hear the truth.”
The CPEC authority is a big milestone for both Pakistan and China and after the first ordinance lapsed we have now introduced a new bill in the National Assembly, he said. The ordinance will set the rules for the authority but the opposition is trying its best to sabotage Pakistan’s friendship with China and we won’t let that happen at any cost, said the minister.
Responding to Faraz’s speech, PPP Senator Raza Rabbani said the CPEC ordinance lapsed in June and it is October now. This means that the authority has been working without any rules or regulations. “I don’t understand how can he [Faraz] say that there is no law. How is this authority functioning? Is it working illegally?”
The bill that was presented in Parliament gave the authority exemption from NAB investigations. “How is that even allowed?”