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Pak opposition walks out of Senate

ANI
23 Jan 2021, 14:55 GMT+10

Islamabad [Pakistan], January 23 (ANI): Opposition parties staged a walkout from the Senate session on Friday over the Pakistan government's "inadequate" response to their queries on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Authority ordinance, reported Dawn.

They also questioned the meeting of Lt-Gen retired Asim Saleem Bajwa with the Chinese ambassador when the CPEC Authority had no chairman and the CPEC Authority's ordinance had lapsed.

"Is [retired Lt Gen] Asim Saleem still receiving the salary of the chairman of CPEC Authority?" questioned Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Senator Muhammad Javed Abbasi.Meanwhile, Jamaat-i-Islami Senator Mushtaq Ahmad asked in what capacity was Bajwa working and meeting with the Chinese ambassador.

Ahmad said Bajwa was a "controversial" figure and yet, he was made chairman of the CPEC Authority, adding that there were allegations of corruption against Bajwa.

He further said that "in the future, no such individual, who has allegations of corruption against them, should be appointed chairman of the CPEC Authority."Earlier, local media had exposed Bajwa's several offshore businesses, including more than 100 companies and franchises in the US, UAE and Canada in which his families were involved.

In 2019, Prime Minister Imran Khan had promulgated an ordinance to establish a CPEC Authority ahead of his visit to China and had appointed Bajwa as its chairperson. While earlier, the Planning and Development Ministry used to oversee the CPEC projects.

China forced CPEC Authority on Pakistan because it wanted the army to be directly involved in the CPEC portfolio as Beijing was reportedly irked with Khan's slow movement on the project.The CPEC Authority ordinance by Imran Khan governement gave immunity to the chairman and staff from all legal proceedings, in turn protecting them from National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), and police to institute cases.

Earlier, Ahmad had also submitted written questions to the Minister for Planning Asad Umar These included "Whether it was true that the CPEC Authority was continuing to work despite the lapse of the CPEC Authority Ordinance?" and "What was the legal nature of the administrative and financial decisions taken by the authority so far?"Umar responded that the CPEC Authority Ordinance had lapsed in May 2020 and the CPEC Authority Bill was pending in the National Assembly. He added that all administrative and financial decisions of the authority were being taken according to the rules and regulations of the related ministries, reported Dawn.

Opposition members in turn walked out of Senate as they felt that the response of Umar was inadequate regarding CPEC Authority. (ANI)

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