ISLAMABAD: Parliamentarians of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) — two major Opposition parties in the National Assembly — on Thursday staged a token walkout against Information Minister Fawad Hussain Chaudhry’s ‘disrespectful remarks’ against their party members.
However they ended their boycott after his apology. Chaudhry had invited the wrath of opposition lawmakers, particularly, PPP, when a day earlier he in a tweet accused PPP’s 2008-13 government of plundering the national wealth.
The controversy was sparked off when Chaudhry, responding to a tweet by PPP MNA Nafeesa Shah seeking his reply in leasing out radio Pakistan’s building, had tweeted: “PPP destroyed all institutions, including PBC by bringing in its own cronies … in three days … Khursheed Shah filled 800 people only in Radio! costing Rs70 million (Dh2.09 million) additional burden. Govt is drowning Rs5 billion every year only on Radio thanks to PPP visionless policy.”
On Thursday when the National Assembly started proceedings, PPP’s Dr Nafeesa Shah moved a privilege motion against the information minister for accusing former opposition leader Syed Khursheed Shah of recruiting 800 people in Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation or Radio Pakistan in just three days.
She asked Speaker National Assembly Asad Qaisar to refer the matter to the privilege committee.
Khursheed Shah also spoke on the occasion and demanded of the Chair to direct Chaudhry to prove his allegations.
However, in his response, Chaudhry insisted his tweet was based on facts and he was very much justified in saying that the previous rulers of the PPP and PML-N had acted as “thieves and robbers” and not the custodians of the public exchequer.
Not only Radio Pakistan, they also destroyed Pakistan Steel Mills and Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), Pakistan Television, the minister said.
He alleged that PML-N Senator Mushahidullah Khan too got his brother and cousin posted abroad on key positions in PIA.
“Mr Speaker, how can I call thieves and robbers by some other name,” Chaudhry asked.
He also referred to parties held by the party members, accusing them of blowing up money on ‘natch girls’ (female dancers). However Speaker Asad Qaiser expunged these remarks.
Chaudhry revealed that a taxi driver in New York was selected by a former President to head Radio Pakistan as DG. This is how things were run in the past, he alleged.
He said the PBC was facing a loss of over Rs10 million and it could face closure in four years time if corrective measures were not taken.
Chaudhry’s remarks infuriated PPP lawmakers who they walked out of the House in protest, demanding his unconditional apology.
PML-N’s President and Leader of the Opposition, Shahbaz Sharif also walked out along with his parliamentarians in solidarity with the PPP.
Later, after his apology, both the parties ended their boycott and returned to Parliament.