PML-N, PPP turn on each other over privatisation process


By Asim Hussain

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) turned on each other, while railing at the treasury benches during a heated debate on the privatisation policy of the government during the National Assembly session.
PML-N parliamentary leader Khawaja Asif said his party’s government fetched $10 billion from the sale of Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL) but PPP member Nafisa Shah responded that the PTCL was sold to a company that had no status and that it still owned the money. Asif initiated the debate on the privatisation process. He credited former prime minister Nawaz Sharif for starting the privatisation policy. “Our privatisation policy was continued by the PPP and Pervez Musharraf governments,†he said.
“We sold PTCL for $10 billion,†he told the house. He then moved to plans for the privatisation of the Pakistan International Airlines. “We all fear that the PIA has been destroyed in one and a half month. If PIA is privatised in a non-transparent manner, we will go to court,†he said.
Asif was also critical of the ordinance related to the convicted Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav. “Legislation is being brought to facilitate Kulbhushan. Had we done this, we would have been accused of being [Indian Prime Minister Narendra] Modi’s friend.†Asif railed against the presence of dual nationality holders in the federal cabinet. “The favourites and the dual-citizen ATMs are in the cabinet,†he alleged. “How could those who cannot sit in this assembly sit in the cabinet.â€
Replying to Khawaja Asif, Federal Minister Murad Saeed unleashed a trenchant criticism of the previous PML-N governments. With mentioning any names, he said that he knew a politician who came through a shortcut. He added that a former foreign minister was taking Rs1.5 million by working abroad but at that time, the question of patriotism was not raised come up. “Even their prime minister [Nawaz Sharif] turned out to be an Iqama holder. Opposing the privatisation, PPP’s Nafisa Shah said that a commission should be formed to look into the sale of companies from the 1990s. “There is no benefit in selling the companies to the country. PTCL was sold to a company which had no status, while there are still outstanding arears.â€
Earlier, PPP member Shazia Mari moved a calling attention notice on behalf of the opposition, saying that the number of coronavirus cases had declined due to less tests. Responding to the notice, Parliamentary Health Secretary Dr Noshin Hamid denied such an impression.
“Coronavirus cases are declining in all parts of the country, except Sindh,†she said. “One of the reasons is that previously first three tests of a patient were conducted – first positive then two negative – but now the trend is to conduct two tests first positive and then negative,†she added.