ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Fawad Chaudhry Thursday apologized to members of opposition after they staged a walkout from the National Assembly session in protest over his ‘derogatory remarks.’
Dr Nafisa Shah of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) wanted to move a privilege motion in response to a tweet of Fawad Chaudhry wherein he had written, “The PPP destroyed all institutions including Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation (PBC) by filling its own cronies. In three days Khursheed Shah filled 800 people only in Radio (Pakistan) costing Rs 70 million additional burden. The government is drowning Rs 5 billion every year only on Radio. Thanks to PPP’s visionless policy.”
Former Opposition Leader in the National Assembly, Khursheed Ahmed Shah said that he was not information minister at the time when the jobs were given in the Radio Pakistan. However, he said that it is responsibility of the government to provide jobs to people. He said, “If I get chance, I will give 100,000 jobs to the people. The PPP government had increased more than 125 percent salaries of the government servants and 100 percent pensions,” he remarked.
In response to the opposition of PPP members, the information minister criticized the opposition members while speaking on the floor of the House and said that the PPP and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) governments destroyed the institutions and looted the country by recruiting their favorites and cronies.
He said that a committee headed by Khursheed Shah had recruited 800 people in the Radio Pakistan within three days. He said that they destroyed the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), Pakistan Steel Mills and Pakistan Television Corporation (PTV) by recruiting their favorites and cronies. “The thieves and dacoits are sitting here. Now, they should be in jail,” he maintained.
Speaker National Assembly Asad Qaiser said that the minister should not use such words for the members of the House, as these are un-parliamentary words.
As the House broke into chaos over his remarks, the Speaker said, “Chaudhry Sahib it is your responsibility to maintain order.” However, the information minister continued with his speech and said, “These people say we are inexperienced.”
The opposition members stood up and strongly protested the remarks of the minister.
Khursheed Shah said that the minister used derogatory language and he breached the privilege of the opposition members, adding that he should apologize on the floor of the House. The other members also demanded the minister to apologize over his remarks.
Shah said, “Members of the House have respect but the information minister used derogatory language against us. I’m not saying that he has a low character but the words used by him are low.”
Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif said that the minister used un-parliamentary words and he should apologize otherwise the opposition will stage a walkout from the House in protest. Afterwards, the opposition members staged a walkout from the House.
However, the minister continued his speech and said, “Khursheed Shah appointed countless people in PIA, while PML-N leader Mushahidullah Khan gave top posts in the national flag carrier to his brother and cousin and then they tell us that we are running the country on funds.”
The information minister further said, “If you call a thief a thief, they get offended.” He said that the country cannot be run like the way it has been run for the past two to three decades.
Following this, the Speaker once again interrupted Chaudhry, however, he said, “Please let me complete what I am saying. The others are just sitting here but people of Pakistan want to hear me.”
He while criticizing the previous governments said, “A man who used to drive a cab in New York was appointed as director general of Radio Pakistan.”
The minister said that the government is spending Rs 5 billion to run Radio Pakistan while this institution is facing a loss of Rs 1.25 billion per year. If the loss continues then this institution would be closed in next five years, he warned.
He further said, “There should be strict accountability of thieves.” When the National Assembly Speaker in response remarked that he should draft laws for this, Chaudhry said, “Laws are present but have not been implemented.” “Had laws been implemented, all these people would have been behind bars,” he added.
Following the walkout of opposition, Petroleum Minister Ghulam Sarwar, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan and Federal Minister for States and Frontier Regions (SAFRON) Tariq Bashir Cheema approached the opposition members and convinced them to come back to the House.
Afterwards, the opposition members joined the proceedings of the House.
The minister took to the floor once again and apologized to opposition members. “Opposition Leader Shahbaz Sharif asked me to apologize, so I apologize to Khursheed Shah and other members of the opposition.”
Khursheed Shah moved a privilege motion over allegations leveled against him by Chaudhry in his tweet.