The ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s (PTI) MNAs on Monday left their seats and chanted slogans after taking exception to PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari’s remarks regarding former finance minister Asad Umar and Prime Minister Imran Khan during a session of the National Assembly.
The PPP leader, in a fiery speech on the floor of the assembly, criticised Umar and referred to him as “an educated but illiterate” person (parha likha jahil). He also used his oft-repeated slur for the prime minister, calling him a “selected” leader, triggering a ruckus in the parliament.
Speaker Asad Qaiser, following the ruling party’s protest, expunged both of Bilwal’s remarks from the record of the proceedings, reminding the PPP leader that “this house has elected him (the premier); he cannot be called selected.”
“They have realised very late that I have been using the word ‘selected’,” said Bilawal, referring to his repeated use of the slur on the floor of the house. “Why are they objecting now?”
He recalled that “I was called a traitor [in this house] when I was not here. Shaheed Benazir Bhutto, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Fatima Bhutto were also called traitors. Allegations such as these are nothing new for us. The government thinks we will get scared with such threats. They are mistaken. When we were not deterred by dictators such as Zia and Musharraf, why would these puppets scare us?”
Bilawal reiterated his demand for the “sacking of those ministers who have ties with proscribed organisations and terrorists”.
He warned that if “I, as my party’s parliamentary leader, am not allowed to speak, then your prime minister will also not be allowed to speak [in this house].”
“We will not even let him enter [the building],” he threatened.
Bilawal also objected to retired Brig Ijaz Shah’s appointment as the new interior minister, questioning how the position could be given to him, “when there are allegations that he was involved in Daniel Pearl’s murder.”
“Are you trying to send a message to the world that we have terrorists and terrorists’ abettors in our cabinet?” he asked. “This cannot happen.”
Bilawal also took aim at the new federal cabinet, calling it a combination of Musharraf and PPP’s teams, a reference to the many old faces on the treasury benches.
The PPP chairman, sporting a grin, said that “if anyone had to go home, it should have been the prime minister,” calling him “incapable and unworthy”.
Bilawal said that the PPP “has been taking part in the house’s proceedings very reasonably” but warned that the ruling party would be in trouble “if we were to resort to protests.”
PPP lawmakers returned the treasury benches’ uproar during Federal Minister for Power Omar Ayub Khan’s rebuttal by approaching his seat and tearing up the session’s agenda.
Following the commotion, the Speaker adjourned the session until 11am on Tuesday.