Opposition members conducted a Senate walkout on Friday following what they considered to be the absence of a sufficient government response to core issues pertaining to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Jurisdiction, including the retired Lt-Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa’s meeting with the Chinese Ambassador.
During the session, Senator Muhammad Javed Abbasi of PML-N and Senator Mushtaq Ahmad of Jamaat-i-Islami asked in what capacity Bajwa was operating and meeting with the Chinese ambassador while there was no chairman of the CPEC Authority and the CPEC Authority Ordinance had expired.
“Is [retired Lt Gen] Asim Saleem still receiving the salary of the chairman of CPEC Authority?” Abbasi asked.
Ahmad said Bajwa was a “controversial” character and yet he was made chairman of the CPEC Authority, adding that, in an obvious reference to Bajwa, there were charges of corruption against “Papa Johns” He further claimed that “in the future, no such individual, who has allegations of corruption against them, should be appointed chairman of the CPEC Authority.”
Ahmad had also previously sent written questions to Planning Minister Asad Umar:
- Is it correct that, after the lapse of the CPEC Authority Ordinance, the CPEC Authority continued to operate?
- What has been the legal essence of the regulatory and financial decisions made so far by the Authority?
Umar answered that the CPEC Authority Ordinance had expired in May 2020 and in the National Assembly the CPEC Authority Bill was pending. He added that, according to the rules and regulations of the relevant ministries, all administrative and financial decisions of the Authority were made.
In the meantime, Hammad Azhar, Minister for Industries, also addressed 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 also questioned why the opposition decided to make a person the country’s prime minister who was active in the Broadsheet and Panama cases, referring obviously to former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.
Makers of the entire opposition considered these answers lacking and staged a protest walkout.