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Mohsin Naqvi unmoved by stiff PTI criticism

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ISLAMABAD: Opposition PTI members on Friday launched a scathing attack on Interior Minister Mohsin Naqvi, accusing him of perpetuating political victimisation, after the minister made a long-awaited appearance in the National Assembly.

First, it was PTI’s Jamshed Dasti who lambasted Mr Naqvi for the alleged abuse of power and targeting of rivals. Then, Opposition Leader Omar Ayub denounced “the constant witch-hunting of PTI leaders and activists by the Punjab and Islamabad police on the directives of Mr Naqvi, when he was the caretaker chief minister of Punjab and now when he has assumed the charge of interior minister”.

PTI Chairman Barrister Gohar also accused the police of disrupting the party’s founding day event in Islamabad on Thursday and demanded an action against those who even took away a cake which the party had arranged for the occasion.

However, Mr Naqvi did not respond to the allegations and kept meeting members who approached him for the resolution of their problems.

“The Punjab police have become an indisciplined and mercenary force because of the deeds of Dr Usman [IG Punjab] and Mohsin Naqvi,” said Mr Ayub while “condemning” the police action against the party workers in various cities on Friday as the party had called for protest against the alleged rigging in the April 21 by-polls.

He questioned Mr Naqvi’s election as senator as an independent candidate, stating that earlier he was functioning as an “illegal caretaker chief minister of Punjab”. He used the word ‘tout’ for the Punjab IGP and called him a “corrupt person.”

Deputy Speaker Mustafa Shah, however, expunged the word ‘tout’ from the proceedings.

Recalling the Bahawalnagar army-police row, he said it seemed a message was being sent to people that if they saw the police raiding any premises without a warrant, they should treat the cops in the same manner.

Earlier, Mr Dasti said he had received information that police had surrounded his residence in Muzaffargarh.

“We ask the interior minister has he not tired of beating us? Expel us from the country,” said Mr Dasti.

He also asked the chair to accept his privilege motion against the Nadra chairman for not responding to his telephone calls.

Bureaucracy under fire Earlier, Speaker Ayaz Sadiq and members expressed anger over the absence of ministers and senior officials from the proceedings.

At the outset, lawmakers from both sides of aisle drew the speaker’s attention to the empty front rows and criticised the government for not taking the proceedings seriously.

Before taking up a calling attention notice about the petroleum division, the chair inquired if a senior official from the ministry concerned was present.

Upon learning that a director-level official was present, Mr Sadiq expelled him from the gallery and asked him to send an officer of not less than a joint secretary level, within five minutes.

Some MNAs, including PTI’s Riaz Fatiana, said they had never seen the interior minister in the house. The speaker responded that he would himself talk to the interior minister and ask him to attend the session.

Then the speaker started giving floor to members to speak on points of order till the time ministers and senior officials returned to the house.

The speaker also admonished a joint secretary of the petroleum ministry when he entered the house some 50 minutes after the start of the session.

“We apologise that we bothered you and called you … we all have been waiting for you. The session started at 11am. Next time, if you want, we will shower flowers on you when you will come here,” the speaker said, sarcastically.

“If you take parliament this seriously, then next time secretaries will have to come and [no one] less than secretaries. I am sending letters again that please don’t take parliament non-seriously,” he said.

Around the same time, the interior minister entered the hall and the speaker asked him to give a hearing to those who had spoken through points of order.

The deputy speaker also administered oath to Faisal Amin Gandapur, who won the recent by-election on the seat from D.I. Khan.

The National Assembly will now meet on Monday evening.