Islamabad - The first day of 7th National Assembly session turned out to be quite eventful as PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif and PPP leader Asif Ali Zardari made scathing attacks on the PTI government.

The house witnessed heated discussion on the performance of Imran Khan’s government, working of NAB and construction of Mohammad Dam.

Shehbaz Shairf, who is also Leader of Opposition in NA, demanded re-bidding of Rs309 billion Mohmand Dam project, questioning why the contact was awarded after the first bidding became controversial.

Former President Asif Ali Zardari in his speech also criticised government over its “inefficiency” and demanded that NAB chairman be summoned in the Parliament to answer questions related to cases against politicians.

On his arrival in the house, Zardri was warmly welcomed by PML-N parliamentarians. He and Shehbaz Sharif also had a hand shake and then the PPP leader exchanged views with PML-N’s Rana Tanveer and others.

Strongly criticising the PTI’s government, Shehbaz Sharif questioned why the government awarded a Dam contract after consideration of a single bid which had went controversial.

The contract of the dam has been given to the joint venture of Descon, owned by PM’s Adviser Abdul Razak Dawood, and Chinese company China Gezhouba.

“What was the emergency behind immediately awarding the contract, which is violation of PPRA rules,” said the Opposition Leader, citing the PPRA rules.

He claimed that the PML-N government had followed PPRA rules in its government era. “The country was facing bad situation when it took reins but it controlled the situation,” he said.

He demanded to take the issue at the floor of the house and refer it to the House Committee. “Work on this project was being done for last many years but this government has awarded contract,” he said.

The PML-N leader also blasted the government saying it was its incompetence that it was providing expensive electricity from furnace oil, and questioned why gas power plants were not being run to their full capacity.

Sharif asked the chair to conduct a debate on price hike, power outages, increase in price of life saving drug in the house. He also claimed that his government had saved Rs160 billion by following the PPRA rules in one of the projects.

Minister for Communication Murad Saeed criticised opposition for levelling ‘false’ allegations. He said the opposition members (PPP-P and PML-N) make alliance after watching their interests.

Opposition Leader, after completing his speech, opted to leave the house in protest. Shehbaz Sharif said he would not tolerate abuses [by government members] and would prefer to stay away. All the opposition parties’ members also left the house in protest.

However, Minister for Defence Pervez Khattak rushed to clarify that there was no abusive language used from treasury benches. “I assure you that no foul language will be used from treasury benches,” he said.



Vawda’s reaction

Minister for water resources Faisal Vawda, responding the concerns raised opposition leader on Mohmand dam, termed the contract on this dam was still not awarded.

He termed it a conspiracy to block work on it. “All conspiracies against the construction of dam will be foiled, as the opposition is not digesting to see the development of the country,” he said mentioning that there was no dam constructed in last sixty year in the country.

“If something is advertised openly, it cannot be categorized as single bidding,” he said, claiming that PTI’s government had taken a discount of six billion rupees on the construction costs from the bidder.

Vawda said PTI government under Prime Minister Imran Khan would mke all out efforts to resolve the issues of the country on priority basis. He said that the opposition was building a wrong narrative to discredit the PTI’s government.

“Opposition is feared about its politics as it would be buried in grave, after the prosperity and development in the country in PTI’s era,” he said, mentioning that no NRO would be given to anyone.




Zardari’s speech

Speaking in the house, former President Asif Ali Zardari said the time had come for the parliament to call the NAB chairman and “proclaim a law” that before any parliamentarian is summoned by NAB, their case should come to the house committee on law so it can decide whether there is actually a case against the said lawmaker or their family.

Zardari said he was hearing of plans among various parties to call on the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chairman, purportedly to discuss the bureau’s anti-corruption drive that has ensnared several opposition members.

“Why will you go to the NAB chairman?” he asked the MNAs present, before declaring: “The NAB chairman should appear in person before the parliament.”

“I have seen many NAB [like institutions]... I am worried about you; what will happen when you will be called,” said Zardari, without mentioning name of any treasury benches members.

The PPP co-chairman said it was in the government’s interest to “tighten” the NAB as doing so will reduce the prevailing “insecurity” among the bureaucracy and the country will start functioning to some extent.

PPPP’s president said his party wanted to strengthen democracy and the Parliament. He expressed dissatisfaction over the performance of incumbent government.

“The country is becoming unmanageable for this government,” he remarked. “We (opposition parties) would not topple incumbent government rather this would fall on its own,” he said.

Zardari said he was happy to listen that the former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter got relief from the apex court. “We do not want to see anyone’s daughter behind the bars,” he said.

About the constitution of Joint Investigation Team (JIT), Zardari said he and his family were also appearing before NAB and a JIT.

Former president was of the view that the friendly countries of Pakistan were extending support to the government only because they did not want to see Pakistan as a failed state.

House business

The House passed a bill to repeal the West Pakistan Prohibition of Smoking in Cinema Houses Ordinance, 1960 to the extent of Islamabad Capital Territory.

The House also passed a resolution with consensus condemning in strongest words the murder of MNA Syed Ali Raza Abidi in Karachi.

The resolution while expressing condolence with the bereaved family impressed upon the Federal and Sindh governments to arrest the killers and give them exemplary punishment. It also urged the government to make sure that lives and properties of people are protected.

Earlier, the House offered fateha for departed soul of MNA Ali Raza Abidi, martyred FC personnel in Balochistan and others. Minister for Religious Affairs Noor ul Haq Qadri led fateha.