ISLAMABAD: Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Syed Khurshid Ahmed Shah has expressed his surprise over the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s decision to boycott Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s address to the joint session of parliament.
The PTI had announced last week that its legislators would not attend the joint sitting of parliament especially convened on Thursday (today) for the address by the visiting Turkish president.
On the request of the Turkish ambassador, the PTI did review the decision, but later decided to stick to its original plan of staying away from parliament, arguing that their participation would mean endorsing Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif who is currently facing corruption charges.
The party has announced that it will continue its boycott till a final decision on the Panama leaks case being heard by the Supreme Court.
Sources said there was resentment within PTI circles as well over the leadership’s decision to boycott parliament.
In a letter to Turkish president, PTI dissidents claim majority in party against boycott
In a statement issued here on Wednesday, Khurshid Shah lamented the PTI move and said no one could understand the logic behind it.
“Who will understand the logic that in politics we can meet Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but we boycott the Turkish president,” the PPP leader said in an apparent reference to a meeting between PTI chairman Imran Khan and the Indian prime minister.
Mr Shah said the Pakistan Peoples Party always believed that parliament was the best forum to carry out accountability.
He said it appeared that the government on its own had asked the staff of Pak-Turk schools to leave the country and possibly Turkey would not have made any formal demand in this regard.
A recently formed group of PTI dissidents — Founders Group — on Wednesday slammed the party leadership’s move to boycott the joint session of parliament and wrote a letter to the visiting Turkish president, informing him that a majority in the party was against the move.
It may be recalled that the PTI has already disowned the group, saying that its head Akbar Babar has nothing to do with the party affairs. The party alleges that Mr Babar has formed the group for “political blackmailing” and to save Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif from accountability.
In the letter, Mr Babar claimed: “The boycott decision was against the majority decision of workers, office-bearers and PTI parliamentarians.”
The letter, a copy of which has been released to the media, praises the Turkish president for “transforming the social and economic landscape of Turkey”, which is now considered a role model for progressive and democratic change in Islamic states.
“At a time when unity is the need of the hour, we regret the ill-advised decision of the PTI not to participate in the joint session of parliament called to honour you and the people of Turkey,” the letter says, terming the decision “wholly inappropriate”.
Talking to Dawn, Mr Babar said the occasion of the Turkish president’s visit should never be used for political point scoring, adding that the PTI move was a repeat of the bad decision to boycott the joint session on Kashmir that offered a propaganda victory to the Indian prime minister and Indian media to portray a divided opinion on Kashmir.