Finance minister survives no-trust motion
Dissatisfied with his explanations about the involvement of some lawmakers in smuggling, the lower house decided to vote a no-confidence motion against the finance minister.
Once the process was completed, Speaker Abdul Rauf Ibrahimi announced the much-expected result. He said 105 parliamentarians had voted against Zakhilwal and 72 in his favour, while nine ballots were found invalid.
Much to the minister's relief, the speaker said at least 123 votes were needed to strip Zakhilwal of the trust vote he had received from assembly.
On May 13, the minister had accused six members -- Hameedzai Lalai, Haji Zahir Qadeer, Samiullah Samim, Mahmood Khan Sulaimankhel, Mohammad Azim Mohseni and Mohammad Arif Rahmani -- of contraband smuggling and making illegal demands on the government.
Summoned for his failure to appear before the assembly and produce documentary evidence in support of his allegations against the public representatives, Zakhilwal said had already elaborated on the illegal activities of the MPs in Mid-May.
He added a majority of legislators had endorsed his view and the issue was subsequently referred to the Attorney-General's Office for investigations. The Cabinet member argued he had informed the lower house through a letter that evidence against the MPs could be sought from the AGO.
Under the relevant law, he was not authorised to share AGO documents with others, said the minister, who stressed any decision on a no-trust vote against him must be in the national interest. If he was justified, the house should cooperate with him in better discharging his duties, Zakhilwal contended.
But most of the public representatives found his arguments unconvincing, deciding to vote on whether or not to sack the minister. At 11am, the members started voting.
On May 15, the six members spurned as groundless allegations of illegal activities against them and asked the government to put Finance Minister Omar Zakhilwal on the exit control list until the charges were investigated.
They insisted Zakhilwal had levied the allegations without any evidence -- a move that was tantamount to insulting the parliament and smearing their reputations.
In early June, the AGO announced putting five of the members on the Exit Control List for their alleged involvement in corruption and misuse of positions. Qadeer, Samim, Rahmani, Azim Mohseni and Sulaimankhel were placed on ECL.
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