ISLAMABAD - The PML-N government on the first day of 8th session of the National Assembly, after severe criticism from opposition benches, sought their guidance to continue the option of dialogue with TTP or launch military operation against them.
The opposition parties in the house include PPP, PTI, MQM, JI and others also staged a token walkout over the continuous absence of PM Nawaz Sharif from the National Assembly proceedings and for not sharing government’s future course of action to tackle with terrorism.
Taking the floor after the sharp criticism of opposition parties, Minister for Interior Ch. Nisar Ali Khan said that the government is still in favour of peace dialogue with TTP if it clearly demonstrates sincerity in talks.
The Minister, hinting a division among opposition parties, sought their guidance to give one option either to hold dialogues or military operation. “There is a need of complete consensus as military operation could prove successful when all the parties are united on one platform,” he said adding that terrorism is not an issue of one faction party but the whole country is facing this menace. “This is a defining moment...though it’s is simple to announce about operation but consensus could help in this matter,” he said, adding that they would even give maximum credit opposition in case of success.
In response to the absence of the PM from the house, Nisar assured the House that he would attend the proceedings of the House. “PM is not embarrassed to come here as he is elected Prime Minister,” he said adding that the PM had to come but put on hold for further consultation. He further said that there was need of some more consultation to tackle this matter.
Nisar further shared some details of his government’s efforts for peace dialogue with TTP. He also pointed out slight strategy shift of TTP, saying that the PM would hold consultations on this matter.
He also criticized those opposition parties, which have continuously doubted about the efforts for peace dialogues. He slightly touched the incident of Abbottabad operation, saying that they had not criticized the PPP government at that time. “Hue and cry was not made in five years of previous government about launching the operation or dialogue but now they are talking about it,” he added. He said PTI chief Imran Khan is patriot but some times he goes some extra miles in his criticism.
He further said contacts with TTP were at an advanced stage and there was written correspondence between the two sides including a signed letter from Hakeemullah Mehsud. “The peace process was sabotaged by killing of the TTP leader,” he said adding that efforts were again made to establish contacts with Mullah Fazlullah‚ but he was non-responsive despite efforts.
Earlier, leader of opposition in NA Syed Khursheed Shah severely criticized the continuous absence of PM in the House, saying that there was a need of a leadership. “Pakistan needs a leadership, who takes the masses into confidence...opposition particularly PPP will back your decision so no need to delay it more,’ he said adding that opposition would not leave the government in quagmire.
Citing the example of Jawaharlal Nehru, he said that Prime Minister should come in the House and take the lawmakers into confidence.
“People of the country want him the PM to say something at this forum so that they would receive encouragement,” he said adding that their eyes have been impenitently waiting for him to come in the assembly hall.
The opposition parties legislators also shouted a slogan of ‘Shame’ over the absence of PM.
Having almost same expressions, Imran Khan also pointed out absence of PM in the House. “Prime Minister has not attended the session as they wanted to strength his hands for bringing peace in the country,” said Khan.
He strongly demanded that government should take the opposition on board as what is the strategy whether dialogue or a military operation.
Clarifying the notion about pro-Taliban, he stressed that PTI wanted dialogue with Taliban only under the ambit of constitutions of the country.
The PTI chief further said that the country appears to be going towards military operation and if so we should have to get together on the assembly forum. He also sought impediment in dialogue process. “If there was any change in strategy than it they should be informed,” he added.
PTI leader Shah Mehmood Qureshi also pointed out the PM’s continuous absence from the House and announced a token walkout of opposition benches on it.
Adopting a bit different line, MQM legislator Farooq Sattar asked the government that there was no need to be confused on this matter. “If we adopt option of dialogue then it would be tantamount to bargain on martyrs,” he said and registered protest for not taking MQM into confidence about government’s next strategy.
Talking the floor, PML(Z) head Ijazul Haq said there was still a confusion about on-going situation in the country. He said there need of in-camera briefing in the house on this matter.
Sheikh Rashid, Chief of his own faction AML, on a point of order that the year 2014 could be full of turmoil. He further said that the government should clear its position as it appears in state of confusion.
He also came down hard on PM absence and went some extra miles quoting the example of article 64 (clause-II) of the constitution. However, the Speaker clarified that his (PM) application for leave had been submitted in the house.
Earlier, the house was informed that the US disbursed over 3.8 billion dollars during the last four years under Kerry Lugar legislation as against an obligation of over 3.9 billion dollars.
Parliamentary Secretary for Finance Rana Muhammad Afzal Khan, during the question hour, informed that the disbursements included over 252 million dollars for energy sector programmes‚ over 185 million for economic growth and agriculture‚ over 323 million for education‚ 272 million for health‚ 195 million for democratic governance‚ 1157 million for emergency and flood relief‚ 549 million cash transferred‚ 754 million under stabilization programme and 137 million dollars humanitarian assistance.