Opposition boycotts NA proceedings to protest ministers’ absence

Muhammad Anis
Thursday, Jun 23, 2022

ISLAMABAD: The opposition members belonging to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) boycotted National Assembly proceedings in protest against the absence of the Finance minister and other cabinet members as the lower house of parliament continued a debate on the federal budget on Wednesday.

NA Opposition Leader Raja Riaz Ahmad, while taking the floor, observed that neither the Finance minister nor the minister of state for Finance were present in the House. “The opposition members are boycotting the proceedings today as there is no need to sit in the House when the budget debate is not being taken seriously,” he said.

The PMLN’s Shaikh Rohail Asghar also protested the absence of the ministers, saying that he would not take part in the debate because only two ministers were sitting in the House. “There is nobody sitting in the House to take note of proposals being floated by the members in their speeches,” he said.

Earlier, opposition member Saira Bano from the Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) also pointed out that the cabinet members were not present in the House. She alleged that despite restrictions by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), ministers and government members were participating in campaigns for by-elections.

“They should be called back and directed to attend proceedings of the House,” she said. The treasury members came down hard on the PTI government for leaving the national economy on ventilators. They said that with the difficult decisions being taken by the incumbent government, the economy would be stabilized.

Climate Change Minister Sherry Rehman said the PTI government left the country in economic, energy and political crises and the PTI leadership was now doing nothing but to criticize the coalition government. She said the PTI government brought the country at the verge of default and they secured funds from the IMF and spent the same on luxuries like misuse of helicopters. “At present, the PTI leadership is bent upon sacrificing the country for the sake of their revolutionary politics,” she said and pointed out that the economy was placed on ventilator and the government took difficult decisions to save the country from default. “The coalition government is taking collective measures to bring the country out of crises,” she said and recalled that it was the PTI government which reached an agreement with the IMF but later violated it.

Talking about the issue of climate change, she called for taking durable steps to save the country’s water resources, saying that there was a national responsibility on the whole nation to avert future climate crises.

“We need to show responsibility and stop wastage of water, otherwise we will have to purchase potable water at four-time higher prices,” she said. PMLN member Waheed Alam Khan proposed that the government should give subsidy only on kitchen and essential food items. He demanded that the government take measures to reduce prices of paper so that people could purchase textbooks and notebooks for their children.

Maulana Abdul Akbar Chitrali of the Jamaat-e-Islami, speaking on a point of order, demanded that the speaker give a ruling for the arrest of the killers of four people in North Waziristan. He pointed out that Asadullah Dawar, president of Al-Khidmat Foundation of North Waziristan, along with his three colleagues was killed by terrorists who were now becoming active in the area.

Ali Gohar Khan of the PMLN said that the demand of PTI Chairman Imran Khan for early elections after dissolution of the National Assembly could not be fulfilled. Why the PTI chairman was not demanding early elections in KP, Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan. Why the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) was closing eyes to mega corruption scandals against Imran Khan and his associates, he questioned and added: “Why is the NAB not preparing any reference against Imran Khan for embezzlement of funds for BRT Peshawar and Covid-19?” He appreciated the government for presenting a good budget and focusing on road development projects.