ISLAMABAD - Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif’s recent statement that alleged persecution of the Sharif family in the name of accountability dominated the National Assembly session Wednesday. While the opposition criticised the statement, the treasury members defended it as a reflection of truth and embodiment of the sentiments of the ruling party.

The opposition like the previous practice boycotted the proceedings after the opposition leader’s speech and also held a ‘parallel assembly’ (Awami Assembly) in protest outside the Parliament House.

With the onset of proceedings, Opposition Leader Khursheed Shah strongly criticised Chief Minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif’s statement that alleged persecution of Sharif family is not accountability. “Is the Supreme Court holding guns when this kind of statement has been delivered,” he said this while referring to the statement of Punjab chief minister.

He demanded the CM Punjab to take back his words about judiciary. “We (the opposition) will not allow insult of the Supreme Court. We will also not allow the government to run Pakistan by use of force,” he said.

The opposition after the speech of Khursheed shah left the house in protest. The house saw rumpus as opposition MNAs raised anti-government slogans while leaving the house. Some of the government MNAs also responded in the same manner.

The government side, in response to the opposition leader’s criticism, strongly defended the statement of CM Punjab as its four main lawmakers spoke one-by-one on the same issue. However, they requested the opposition to take part in the proceedings.

Railways Minister Khwaja Saad Rafique said that CM Punjab has not used any derogatory language. “What Shahbaz Sharif has stated is right and justified. His (CM) voice is our vice,” he said and added they would respect the decision of judiciary but have the right to show reservation. The PML, he said, has struggled for the rights of judiciary and also has the right to demand justice.

The minister said those who blamed the PML-N for storming the Supreme Court should also recall their adventure against the PTV and the Parliament.

About boycott, he criticised the opposition for not participating in the budget debate having the same lame excuse. He also criticised both Imran Khan and Asif Ali Zardari. “Imran is living in a fool’s paradise and trying to create a new Pakistan by gathering together old members of other parties,” he said, mentioning that the government side tried to woo the opposition but they were adamant on their stance.

Rafique said that all the opposition has been made hostage by PTI and the PPP in the house. “It is strange that PPP is supporting PTI,” he added.

Taking the floor, Minister for Kashmir Affairs Barjees Tahir urged the opposition not to disturb the atmosphere and take part in the proceedings. “What is the purpose of parallel assembly as it is useless,” he added. The opposition parties should share the problems of their constituencies in the House but they were staging protest.

Supporting his colleague, Minister of State for Interior Balighur Rehman said the demand of opposition is unreasonable. He also challenged the chief ministers of other provinces to compare their performance with Shehbaz Sharif.

State Minister for Water and Power Abid Sher Ali also criticised the opposition parties for failing to deliver in their respective provinces.

The minster said that it was not the PML-N, which had signed the NRO to hide its corruption rather the PPP was its sole beneficiary.

He also challenged the opposition to prove a signal penny corruption in all development projects, including Sahiwal Coal, Bikki and Haveli Bahadurshah Power Plants.

Chairman Foreign Affairs Committee Owais Khan Leghari, taking part in the debate, said that speeches of all NA members should be telecasted as it is not only right of opposition leader.

Leghari stressed the need to focus on Water scarcity issue, trade potential. He also called for giving proper attention towards health issues. He said that rising population was another challenge the country would be facing if not given proper attention at the current time.

On the other side, the opposition held a parallel assembly in protest for not broadcasting their speeches on the Pakistan Television (PTV). They in their speeches criticised the government for presenting anti-people budget without providing any relief to masses.