ISLAMABAD - The Treasury and the Opposition on Monday exchanged hot words in the Senate and got into a serious argument with each other over the arrest of PML-N leader Capt (Retd) Muhammad Safdar by Sindh police and two recent anti-government power shows of Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM).

Chairman Senate Muhammad Sadiq Sanjrani expunged some of the “un-parliamentary” remarks used by both sides of aisle after Leader of the Opposition Raja Zafarul Haq made such request to the chair.

While the government “appreciated” Sindh government’s action arresting the Opposition leader, the lawmakers belonging to the Opposition Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), which is the ruling party in the province, claimed that its government had no role in the arrest.

The opposition also criticized the role given by Prime Minister Imran Khan to the Corona Relief Tiger Force to check prices of essential commodities in the markets urging the government to immediately disband this force.

They resembled the force with that of Federal Security Force (FSF), which was created by then Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto,stating it was used to suppress the then opponents.

At the outset of the winter sitting, the opposition leader condemned the arrest of Safdar by police and said that PDM’s, an 11-party anti-government alliance of Opposition,  rally in Karachi was so much disturbing for some people that PML-N leader was arrested by using the pretext of violating sanctity of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s mausoleum. 

The police had arrested Safdar, the spouse of Vice-President Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Maryam Nawaz, in early hours of Monday morning for raising political slogans at the mausoleum.

“Slogans of democracy should not frighten anyone. PPP, Sindh government, Chairman PPP Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and all our party workers strongly condemn such arrests,” said the Parliamentary Leader of PPP in the House Senator Sherry Rehman. 

“What kind of an arrest was this where door locks were broken to enter in a private space? What was the urgency? All lines are being crossed. What kind of democracy is this?” she questioned.

She informed the house that Sindh government was holding an inquiry into the matter. “We will not allow the federal government to do such acts in our name,” she added.

She said that ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) which held the federal capital “hostage” for 126 days in the past was now threatened by just two peaceful and democratic rallies. “They have started arrests and are threating us with tiger farce. How can a democracy be run by threats?” Sherry Rehman questioned. She questioned what was the mandate of the Tiger Force that is being deputed to check food prices?  

During the speech of Sherry, the Treasury lawmakers started an uproar in the house by alleging the opposition for being corrupt when they ruled the country. However, Chairman Senate intervened and made the lawmakers to observe silence.  Former Chairman Senate and PPP stalwart Mian Raza Rabbani also condemned the arrest and said that no case was registered when then opposition leader and now Imran Khan had visited the mausoleum and allegedly violated the sanctity of the mausoleum whose video clips are viral on the social media. “I on the floor of the house would state that British imperialists had started labelling those as traitors who had struggled to get independence,” he said. 

Senator Rabbani said that the ruling elite in Pakistan while following the footsteps of British had also been labelling those people as “traitors and security risk” who struggled for rule of law and rights of the provinces. He said that the elite first used to call those people as traitors who belonged to the small provinces. “But this is for the first time that voices are being raised from Punjab—the stronghold of elite—and now people of this bigger province are being labelled as traitors,” he said and called the situation an alarming.

On his turn, Federal Minister for Narcotics Control Senator Azam Khan Swati condemned the alleged violation of sanctity of mausoleum and said that objectionable slogans were raised there. PTI Senator Mohsin Aziz also condemned the opposition for criticizing army leadership in their rallies and reminded that they were the ones who earlier had supported the legislation giving extension to Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa.  

“We congratulate Sindh government for hosting Capt. (Retd) Safdar,” said another PTI Senator Faisal Javed Khan.  During the speeches of treasury lawmakers, some opposition lawmakers also raised hue and cry.  Later, the Parliamentary leader of PML-N in the House Senator Mushahidullah Khan and the Federal Minister Swati exchanged hot words when the former alleged him that his entry to US was banned for his alleged involvement in corrupt practices during his stay there.

During the argument, the treasury lawmakers rose from their seats to lodge the protest while Senator Mushahidullah continued with his speech amid pandemonium.