Opposition walks out of Senate session over govt’s ‘unsatisfactory’ response about CPEC Authority – Pakistan

Members of the opposition staged a walkout from the Senate session on Friday after what they perceived as the lack of a satisfactory response from the government on key issues related to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Authority, including the meeting of Lt-Gen retired Asim Saleem Bajwa with the Chinese ambassador.

During the session, PML-N Senator Muhammad Javed Abbasi and Jamaat-i-Islami Senator Mushtaq Ahmad questioned in what capacity was Bajwa working and meeting with the Chinese ambassador when the CPEC Authority had no chairman and the CPEC Authority Ordinance had lapsed.

“Is [retired Lt Gen] Asim Saleem still receiving the salary of the chairman of CPEC Authority?” questioned Abbasi.

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, Ahmad had also submitted written questions to the Minister for Planning Asad Umar:

    Whether it was true that the CPEC Authority was continuing to work despite the lapse of the CPEC Authority Ordinance?
    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.

Meanwhile, Minister for Industries Hammad Azhar also responded to the questions and said, “The Chinese ambassador also meets with opposition leaders. There is nothing wrong with meeting a person who has been associated with the CPEC Authority.”

He further questined why the opposition wanted to make an individual the prime minister of the country who was involved in the Broadsheet and Panama cases, apparently referring to former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

Members of the entire opposition found these responses inadequate and staged a walkout in protest.