Govt ‘apologises’ over Nisar remarks on PTI

* Pervaiz Rashid says interior minister gave only a ‘political statement’ * Opp continues NA boycott; deputy speaker tells House committee set up to resolve stand-off
Govt ‘apologises’ over  Nisar remarks on PTI


ISLAMABAD: Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid said on Thursday that the use of word tamasha in the National Assembly by Interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan on Wednesday was just a political statement, and offered an apology on behalf of his cabinet colleague.
“He did not refer to a person; rather he referred to a demand (of getting votes verified),” he said. “Pakistan has not been able to adopt the system to verify thumb impressions... Those who want to get the votes verified, let me inform them that there is no system to verify thumb impressions. Imran Khan must have cast his vote, let me let him that he too would not be able to find his own vote.”
The information minister said that it was a fair and free election as compared to the past. “What service are you doing to Pakistan, parliament or democracy by making a fuss over it?” However, in the same breath, the information minister said that if they (members of the National Assembly) were hurt because of that statement, “I apologise to them”. When asked if Chaudhry Nisar should offer the apology himself, Rashid said that the interior minister represented the PML-N, and so did he, therefore he was apologising on behalf of the interior minister.
The opposition Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) continued boycotting the proceedings of the Lower House of parliament on Thursday. Although Nisar and the opposition parties stuck to their respective positions, a ray of hope emerged when Deputy Speaker Murtaza Javed Abbasi told the House that a committee has been formed to calm down the opposition. The opposition had announced boycott of the proceedings on the use of word tamasha by the interior minister over the issue of thumb impressions’ verification, a demand mainly by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).
Immediately after the question hour protesting members of the opposition entered from one gallery and went straight for the exit just to remind the government about their protest. Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party chief Mahmood Khan Ackakzai asked the treasury to bring back the opposition side because it is the norm around the world to get the opposition back whenever it goes for a boycott. Upon his the deputy speaker said that a committee has been tasked to bring the opposition back in the House.
“We will not attend the session until interior minister withdraws his remarks,” PTI’s Shah Mehmood Qureshi said while addressing the media at Parliament house. Qureshi also expressed concern over what he said was interior minister’s decision to withdraw security of PTI chief Imran Khan. “Imran Khan has serious threats from Taliban due to his stance on polio campaign, and withdrawal of his security is a serious cause of concern,” he added. 
Earlier, while responding to the apology sought by Bangladesh over the resolution against execution of Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh leader Abdul Qader Molla, Sardar Awais Ahmed Leghari said, “This House should reject that demand.” Referring to the protests in Bangladesh against Pakistan, he said that Pakistan is a democratic country and this House has the right to sensitise Bangladesh on this issue.
Speaking on a point of order Achakzai said the opposition was the integral part of the House and proceedings of the House were not possible without it. Deputy Speaker Murtaza Javed Abbasi said he has already constituted a committee to bring back PPP and PTI. Meanwhile, State Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Shaikh Aftab Ahmed said he has already contacted the leader of the opposition Khurshid Shah and Shah Mehmood Qureshi asking them to attend the meeting of Business Advisory Committee of the House. Shah conveyed his inability to attend the meeting, however, he agreed to attend the meeting of the committee on Friday (today). 

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