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Parliament bypassed over MFN status to India: Nisar

21 October, 2011

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ISLAMABAD: Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said on Thursday the government had not taken parliament into confidence on giving India the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status.

"We have serious reservations on granting the MFN status to India and the government should bring the issue in parliament for debate but it seems that they are running everything in mafia style," he said while addressing a press conference here at the Punjab House. He was of the view that India had always cheated Pakistan and in this situation the rulers were taking decisions against the public opinion.

He said he would file a petition in the Supreme Court against the appointment of NAB chairman Admiral (retd) Fasih Bukhari. "In my capacity as the leader of the opposition, I have directed my lawyer Akram Sheikh to prepare the petition, which would probably be filed by Saturday (tomorrow)."

Ch Nisar also sought the government's clarification of thenews report in the Financial Times regarding President Asif Ali Zardari's memo to the US administration, which he sent through US Admiral Mike Mullen. "It is a serious issue but the government has so far neither issued any clarification nor confirmed the report and if they deny it, then they should sue the newspaper." He said these allegations had appeared in a serious newspaper, not in a tabloid.

The report, he said, made serious allegations that President Asif Ali Zardari feared a military coup against him and was ready to change the security team of the country as per the wishes of the Americans if Washington provided him protection. "These are serious allegations and the government should clarify its position," he said.

On filing a petition against the appointment of Admiral (retd) Bukhari as the NAB chief, Ch Nisar said it had now been proved that Asif Ali Zardari was the main hurdle in the formation of the National Accountability Bureau and that he cannot accept any person who makes the government and opposition accountable without any prejudice.

"The Swiss accounts of Asif Ali Zardari is the main case before the NAB and they have turned the NAB into a joke by adopting such non-serious attitude in the appointment of its chairman," he added. He said those close to President Zardari were afraid of an independent accountability institution.

Ch Nisar denied that the opposition wanted a person of its choice as the NAB chief, saying it only wanted a person who enjoyed the confidence of the whole nation. He said the Supreme Court had given a clear verdict in the case of Justice (retd) Deedar Hussain Shah but the government again chose the same way for the appointment of NAB chairman so that NAB could not become an effective institution for accountability because of Zardari's $60 million in the Swiss banks. "The government fears that once an independent accountability institution is established, the first thing it will do is write a letter to the Swiss authorities to reopen the Swiss accounts case," he added.

He wondered if there was no one in a nation of 180 million people who enjoyed the trust of the masses for conducting independent, fair and transparent accountability. Ch Nisar said the petition was being filed to settle the issue of consultation because if the government continued to enact farce in the name of consultation, then President Zardari might well appoint Rehman Malik as the caretaker prime minister and other cronies as ministers that would put the credibility of elections at stake.

Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan also raised the issue of not providing legal cover to the Election Commission and said despite setting positive precedence of appointment of members of the Election Commission as per the 18th Amendment, they have yet not provided it the legal cover. "No legislation was made to provide legal cover to the Election Commission and even the salaries of its members were paid on the orders of chief election commissioner," he added.

He said the law ministry had been handed over to a gang of incompetent persons and was still headed by a person who was not even a minister but all his family and cronies were adjusted to run the affairs of the law ministry. "They are making deals rather than running the ministry," he added.

Ch Nisar said he had talked to Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani on Wednesday night on the issue of providing legal cover to the Election Commission, so that it could work independently without any pressure. "The prime minister has given assurance that he will look into the matter," he added. He said he had told the prime minister that the opposition would have no objection if an ordinance was promulgated for this purpose. "I hope that Prime Minister Gilani will take positive steps in this regard soon," he added.

He said there was evidence that hurdles were being created in the independence of Election Commission. "Though I have evidence yet I do want to scandalise and sensationalise the issue," he said.

In reply to a question, Ch Nisar said the Supreme Court was the only shield against corruption and the only institution to which the people could look for justice. When asked about his scheduled meeting with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, he said the APC resolution would be in his mind during the meeting.

He said we are not against the United States but against the policies of its administration. "The people of Pakistan disliked the policies of Bush Jr and when Obama won, the people thought he would abandon the previous policies but this has not happened," he added.

Answering a question about who would pay his lawyer's fee, he said he had good personal rapport with his lawyer but made it clear that the Punjab government would not pay any fee to his lawyer.

Asked whether it was not conflicting that while he was opposing the MFN status to India, Mian Nawaz Sharif in his recent statement has expressed the desire to have good trade relations with India, he said Nawaz Sharif has always stated that India and Pakistan are two nuclear states and they cannot resolve their disputes through war. "But giving MFN status to India not only has political but also economic and regional implications. We have to make decisions not at the cost of Kashmir and national interests and we should evolve a consensus on such issues," he added.

In response to a question regarding the PML-N's stance on Defence Housing Authority bill, he said the military has contacted the party in this regard and secretary defence and DHA officials will brief them on it.

To a question regarding the performance of the Public Accounts Committee, he said it was for the first time that the PAC in two-and-a-half years recovered Rs115 billion. "The PAC is not an accountability forum as I do not have any investigation or recovery team but still we have recovered the amount," he added.

In reply to another question, he said the PML-N was in contact with many parliamentarians and individuals and in the coming days many constituency-based candidates would join the PML-N.

Courtesy: The News

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