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Opposition targets Aziz for encounter with Rice


Islamabad : After a disqualification notice against Imran Khan for allegedly fathering a love child, Pakistan's parliament is now dealing with another reference – this time against Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz for alleged corruption and trying to "impress" US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Over 30 opposition parliamentarians have given the disqualification notice to National Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Amir Hussain, who in turn sent the complaint to the National Assembly's Secretariat "for consideration" Thursday.

The opposition has relied upon Rice's recently published authorised biography that has an account of how Aziz, dressed in his best, allegedly tried to impress Rice speaking in husky voice, but began to fumble and mutter incoherently when she "stared him down", reports the Daily Times.

Aziz has also been charged with involvement in a stock market crash and misappropriations in the aborted Pakistan Steel Mills sell-off.

The reference alleges that Aziz "engineered" the stock exchange crash of March 2005 through "his front man" Arif Habib and others. It said the Supreme Court verdict in the Steel Mills case and statements of a former chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan, Tariq Hasan, supported their position.

Opposition parties have also announced that they would soon file a reference against ruling Pakistan Muslim League (PML) President Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain for a Rs.340 billion loan write-off he reportedly received.

The targeting of Aziz appears to be in retaliation to the speaker accepting a disqualification move against cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan, alleging that he had a relationship out-of-marriage with a British woman, the late Sita White, and they had a "love child".

The speaker had found the charge against Khan 'valid' and referred it to the chief election commissioner (CEC).

The reference against Imran Khan was the joint move of parliamentary affairs minister Sher Afgan Niazi and the pro-government Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM).

Imran Khan has applauded the opposition move, saying the MQM reference against him was filed on personal grounds, but the opposition had moved a reference based "on real issues".

The National Assembly tenure ends in November.