The government and opposition, particularly Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) legislators, Wednesday traded barbs over the arrest of MNA Khawaja Saad Rafique by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), during a heated National Assembly session. The opposition members claimed that the government was continuing political victimization of opponents through NAB, adding that the government could not register even a single case against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and opposition leader Shehbaz Sharif.On a point of order, former prime minister and PML-N leader Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said the party was ready if NAB was going to be used to pressurize the opposition.”Opposition leader Shehbaz Sharif was arrested and till date no case could be formed against him. Accountability institutions are being used to exert pressure on opposition parties,” he claimed. “We are not against accountability but the way pressure is being exerted on opposition is against the democratic traditions. Saad Rafique has said on the assembly floor that he is not related to the case,” he asserted. “Hamza Shehbaz is the opposition leader in Punjab Assembly and his name is not on the exit control list (ECL) yet the FIA stopped him at the airport. Zulfi Bukhari’s name was on the ECL but the prime minister took him along for Umrah and nobody asked about it,” Abbasi said. “What is happening today is nothing compared to what was happening during Pervez Musharraf’s tenure but that was the era of a dictator. There was no democracy at that time but it is there today,” he upheld. “The National Assembly speaker should not save members from accountability but should save them from revenge,” Abbasi said. “Today, NAB members are leveling allegations against opposition members. If media trials are held today, then where will we get justice tomorrow?” he asked.“The prime minister’s helicopter case is in NAB and if an opposition leader can be arrested, the leader of the house can also be arrested in the case. There is a case against Punjab Assembly speaker, arrest him too. There is Malam Jabba case against defence minister and he should be arrested as well,” Abbasi said. “There was a court order against Jahangir Tareen but he is also roaming free,” he added. Questioning as to what corruption was done during the PML-N’s term, the former prime minister said, “If the standard that has been set for Nawaz, Shehbaz Sharif and Saad Rafique is set for the current government, then half of the House will be behind the bar. What NAB is doing today is not accountability but the way for ruin and destruction of the country. Bureaucrats are not working today. There is aRs4.5 billion case against OGRA chairman Tauqeer Sadiq and seven years have passed but nothing has happened.”Opposition leader Shehbaz Sharif, who attended the National Assembly session on a transit remand, slammed Rafique’s arrest and demanded a production order for the former minister. The PML-N president also alleged that misuse of authority was being carried out in the name of accountability. Pakistan People’s Party’s Naveed Qamar backed Shehbaz’s demand for a production order to be issued for Rafique, and said the former minister should be allowed an opportunity to tell the assembly about the situation. “If the arrests continue like this, then the next National Assembly sessions may have to be held at Adiala Jail,” he remarked.Fawad Chaudhry, in response, fired back that the PML-N had not had ‘the right upbringing’ since it was not even giving him a chance to address their concerns. His remarks, however, caused an uproar by the opposition party, which demanded that the information minister take back his words. Once order was restored, Chaudhry called on the opposition to let NAB and the courts do their work. “NAB is doing its work. Let NAB do its work, let the courts do their work,” the minister said, adding that the ongoing cases against political leaders were initiated during the tenure of the past governments. “The current government won’t become a hurdle in the path to accountability,” he continued. He claimed that those making the most noise did not want accountability.Minister of State for Communications Murad Saeed claimed that seven opposition members belonging to the PML-N had approached him for relief in accountability cases. “Seven of PML-N members asked me for an NRO but their cases will proceed. No one will be given NRO,” he revealed. He further said that the first person who had asked him for NRO was present in the parliament at this time.Lashing out at the opposition, the minister said, “Those who looted the nation’s money should be hanged at D-Chowk and their assets should be auctioned.”Former prime minister and PPP leader Raja Pervaiz Ashraf said the previous governments had done a lot of mistakes and asked the current one not to repeat those. “Stop blaming each other and let’s find out the way forward,” he added.Published in Daily Times, December 13th 2018.