ISLAMABAD: In unison, opposition parties joined forces on Monday and demanded the resignation of Defence Minister Ahmed Mukhtar for issuing a ‘controversial and irresponsible’ statement regarding the reopening of Nato supply routes.
Senators from Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) and Jamiat-e-Ulema Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) criticised the defence minister for saying that Pakistan could face economic sanctions if it did not unplug the routes.
PML-N leaders while talking to reporters in Lahore announced a boycott of the upper house proceedings on Monday over the defence minister’s statements. PML-N’s Senator Raja Zafarul Haq, speaking on a point of order in the upper house, claimed that Mukhtar was “confusing the situation at a very sensitive juncture of events”.
He contended that the defence minister’s comments were against the will and spirit of parliament’s resolution and recommendations of the Parliamentary Committee on the National Security (PCNS) and he should therefore resign immediately.
“Who is he to direct the PCNS to review a decision over Nato supplies? We are unable to understand what the defence minister is up to. He is giving irresponsible statements that are completely in violation of the national security.”
Haq asserted that the PML-N is leaving the house as the government is not taking notice of these “frenzied statements made by a key minister”.
Meanwhile, the JUI-F also staged a token walkout together with the PML-N but later joined the proceedings. Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haidery termed the defence minister’s statement an insult to parliament.
It was a private members day in the upper house. The Medical and Dental Council (Amendment) Bill 2012 passed by the National Assembly, was deferred after objections raised by National Regulation and Services Minister Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan — who asserted that the bill should have been routed through the ministry.
Meanwhile, Defence Secretary Nargis Sethi’s ‘interference’ over the amended draft of the Drug Regulatory Agency, which was made and approved by a special committee, was sternly criticised by the senators of the Awami National Party (ANP) and Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM).
MQM’s Senator Abdul Haseeb Khan who had moved the motion regarding the health policy with particular reference to the registration and pricing of drugs, national programmes and formation of a drug regulatory authority, claimed that the health ministry was devolved to the provinces but the bureaucracy was still trying to grasp the authorities of the provinces through illegal means.
Members also criticised Water and Power Minister Naveed Qamar over his constant absence from the upper house.