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April 25, 2019

Uproar mars NA session for second day

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April 25, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Pandemonium marred the proceedings of the National Assembly for the second consecutive day on Wednesday as a war of words continued between the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP).

Former finance minister Asad Umar for the first time since his exit from the federal cabinet came up with strong reply to criticism of the PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, saying that then PPP government changed four finance managers with Asif Ali Zardari as president but the economic growth rate remained the slowest in country’s history.

“Bilawal has been saying that the incumbent government is incompetent and a failure, therefore, I thought that I should raise curtain issues and unveil the truth behind his allegations,” Asad Umar said on a point of order in the National Assembly.

Asad Umar said Bilawal Bhutto made good speech in Urdu but his English part of speech was taken as anti-Pakistan in India and the same was used as propaganda against Pakistan.

“I had objection on that English part of his speech which was used as propaganda in India and I had also expressed apprehensions while responding to his speech on that occasion in the National Assembly,” he said.

He mentioned that he never called Bilawal a traitor ,but the Indian media reported that it was saying the same which was stated by the PPP leader. He said the PPP leader alleged the finance minister was changed because the government’s economic policy failed. “If change of finance minister is criteria to judge performance of a government then their government changed four finance ministers,” he said, adding if the PTI was a failure because of change of finance minister then the PPP government was a disaster.

He recalled that during first year of the PPP government, the economic growth was 0.4 percent, whereas the same did not exceed from 2.8 percent in five years of their government, while the inflation rate reached figure of 12.7 percent.

“Did nobody tell Bilawal that growth rate was 2.8 percent, while inflation rate was 12.7 percent when the PPP was in government from 2008 to 2013,” he said. The former finance minister observed that people were expressing fears over expected slow growth rate, saying that such situation is created when there is imbalance in payments. He pointed out that another problem was price hike, saying that during first eight months of the present government, the inflation rate was 6.5 percent and it could jump to 8 percent, whereas it witnessed increase upto 12.7 percent when the PPP was in the government. “Then the PPP leadership was not concerned about the poor when the inflation rate was so high,” he said.

He also recalled that the loan burden on the country increased by 135 percent during the PPP tenure while revenue collection also reduced by 8 percent. He said the opposition leaders were criticising the present government because circle of accountability was being squeezed against them for looting the national exchequer and their tension was on the rise. “Your foreign accounts in Swiss banks are under threat and fake accounts in names of those selling ‘Falooda’ are being unearthed,” he said.

Asad Umar made it clear that tough decision to improve national economy could only be taken when truth is told to the masses. “The masses will support us only when we give them the correct information,” he said.

He maintained that it would have to be proved that Pakistan would not surrender to any power as it was a nuclear state. Senior PPP leader Syed Khursheed Shah said Asad Umar was feeling the pain because Abdul Hafeez Shaikh had been given the portfolio who was also finance minister during their tenure. “Asad Umar says that our performance was poor but still they want our former finance minister,” he said.

Khursheed Shah said it was a fact which could not be denied that Asad Umar was incompetent and that was why he was removed as finance minister. He said that Article 6 of the Constitution should be used against the prime minister for given a statement in Iran that Pakistan’s soil was used for terror activities. He also ridiculed another statement of the prime minister saying did Imran Khan witnessed from a planet that Germany and Japan share a border.

Meanwhile, the opposition parties staged walkout from the House when the PML-N parliamentarian Rana Tanveer was not given the floor and instead Ali Zaidi of PTI was allowed to speak. However, Ali Zaidi could not speak due to pandemonium.

The PPP member Abdul Qader Patel wanted to point out lack of quorum but the chair adjourned proceedings of the House till Thursday (today).

Meanwhile, Bilawal responded to Asad Umar’s criticism and said the ex-finance minister, who was removed due to incompetence, is now lecturing us about how PPP’s economic policies were flawed.

Bilawal tweeted: “Former finance minister who was removed because his own PM said he removed incompetent ministers, is now lecturing us about how PPPs economic policies were flawed. Obviously IK doesn’t agree as he appointed President Zadar’s finance minister as incompetent Assad’s replacement.”

Bilawal while responding to jibe of Prime Minister Imran Khan saying, “what was that about small man in big office’.

Responding to Prime Minister Imran Khan, who in a Public gathering in South Waziristan ostensibly due to slip of the tongue called Bilawal, 'Sahiba' (Miss), Bilawal questioned him with a tweet, “What was that about small men in big offices? #PMSelect.”

While addressing a press conference, Senator Mustafa Kokhar, spokesman for Bilawal, challenged Prime Minister Imran Khan that if he had any courage then he may use same language regarding the PPP chairman in the Parliament. “There is no difference between Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad and Imran Khan,” he said.

Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar also demanded the government to unveil the agreed conditions with the IMF so that people could know about the increase in tariffs of electricity and gas. “The conditions of the IMF should be brought up before the Parliament as all the conditions were being kept secret from the people,” he said.

He said the prime minister had claimed that he would regularly come to the Parliament to answer the questions of the parliamentarians yet he was avoiding the Parliament. Kokhar questioned that whether Prime Minister Imran Khan will tell where he met Dr Hafeez Sheikh, who had served the PPP government as finance minister. He questioned whether Pakistan could contest its case in the FATF in the presence of the Brig (R) Ijaz Shah as interior minister, who had linked with the banned outfits.

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