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Opposition agitates price hike in NA today

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N), Pakistan People’s Party and Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal — the major opposition parties — have decided to develop a united strategy for their course of action, while Leader of the House Prime Minister Imran Khan will be turning up for the first time in the current sitting of National Assembly on Monday afternoon.

The PM announced last week that he would be attending the house proceedings. The sources pointed out that the opposition will agitate the question of dearness including the price hike of petroleum products, medicines, energy including gas and essential items in the presence of prime minister. The serious charges against the ousted federal health minister, inflated gas bills, will also be subject of the protest to be made by the opposition in the presence of prime minister in house.

Appointment of new governor of State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) and sudden change of the FBR will be another significant issue that the opposition will take up. The parliamentary leaders of the opposition will put their heads together in the chamber of the leader of opposition in the Parliament House before the commencement of the session.

Well-placed parliamentary sources told The News on Sunday that former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi will lead the opposition in the absence of leader of opposition Shahbaz Sharif, who is in the United Kingdom for treatment.

The opposition PML-N stalwarts are in touch with Quaid PML-N and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif for his guidance. Meanwhile, the opposition has decided to pursue its demand for a trial against Imran Khan under Article 6 of the Constitution for his assertions made in Tehran during his visit to Iran and his remarks about the army and militants in his recent interview appeared in a New York newspaper.

The opposition has also rejected the explanation offeredabout comments of the prime minister made in Iran by the Prime Minister Office (PMO) afterwards. Former speaker National Assembly Sardar Ayaz Sadiq has already raised the issue in the National Assembly’s ongoing session and he has asked speaker Asad Qaiser to take cognize of the matter for initiation proceedings against Imran Khan.

The speaker is unmoved about it. The sources said that the opposition has planned to formally lodge a complaint against the prime minister for invoking Article 6, the sources added. The sources pointed out that some leaders of the PML-N may not show up in the house today since they would be busy with Nawaz Sharif in Lahore but Shahid Khaqan Abbasi will be present to steer the opposition.

The PPP and MMA will be present in House in full strength, the sources added. The agenda for the house proceedings has been issued for Monday. The house will discuss the energy situation in the country and possible way forward.

Federal minister for energy Umar Ayub Khan will take the House in confidence on the issue. State Minister for parliamentary affairs Engineer Ali Muhammad Khan will put up the motion under Rule 259.

Yet another calling attention notice will be taken up in the House as matter for urgent public importance regarding high markup being charged by the NGOs and Microfinance Banks on the loans given to poor farmers under the rural support programme, causing grave concern amongst the public.

The calling attention has been submitted by Dr. Muhammad Afzal Khan Dhandla, Malik Muhammad Ehsanullah Tiwana, Niaz Ahmad Jhakhar, Muhammad Akram and Ms. Hina Rabbani Khar. Motion of thanks for the President and discussion the motion moved by state minister Engineer Ali Muhammad Khan, of 17thDecember, 2018 that “This House expresses its deep gratitude to the President of Pakistan for his address to both Houses assembled together on 17th September, 2018.”

Former leader of opposition and PPP leader Syed Khursheed Ahmad Shah will raise the issue through a calling attention notice regarding proposed 50% cut in the budget of the higher education commission (HEC) by the federal government causing grave concern amongst the public.

Meanwhile, the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Sunday said though the prices of daily use commodities always increased in Ramazan by 30 to 40 percent, it was not expected that the government would increase the prices of petroleum products a day before the holy month.

In a statement, PPP leader Syed Khursheed Shah said instead of broadening the tax net, the government put all the burden on the poor by raising the prices of petroleum products. He said during the PPP tenure the international price of petrol was about $145 per barrel and now it was in the range of $70 per barrel.

He said the PTI government proved incompetence and all the things slipped from its hands, as it not only raised the prices of petroleum products, but also of drugs. “It’s time that the government tell us why the prices of medicine have been increased and who is behind the decision,” he said.

He asked whether the Pakistani rupee, dollar, British Pound, Yen or any other currency was used while making the decision. Replying to a question, he said the opposition had advised the government to go to the IMF immediately after taking powers.

“We had told them if you go late to the IMF then they will impose hard conditions but they did not accept and now they have gone to IMF that has put hard conditions on them,” he said. To another question on the restructuring of PML-N, he said the PML-N had taken a right decision.

“They have brought second tier leadership to the front which is intelligent, aggressive and knows politics well, and this change will make a difference,” he said. Meanwhile, commenting on the appointment of governor State Bank of Pakistan, Senator Mustafa Khokhar, spokesman for the PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, said the government had made an irresponsible decision, as with his appointment the government handed the country’s economy over to the IMF.

“Those who prefer to commit suicide for taking loan from the IMF have now mortgaged the country to the IMF,” he added. He asked if there was dearth of economic experts in Pakistan that an economic expert had to be imported from the IMF.

Meanwhile, addressing a press conference here on Sunday, PPPP Deputy Information Secretary Palwasha Khan claimed that the SBP governor was removed after he raise questions with regard to money laundering. “The ex-governor pointed out that 18 family members of Imran khan Niazi were involved in money laundering,” she claimed.

Palwasha demanded constitution of a joint investigation team to probe the questions raised by the former SBP governor. Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi Sunday said increase in the petroleum products’ prices had been made due to rise in the prices of POL products in the international market.

Talking to media persons in Multan, he said the prices of petroleum products in Pakistan were less compared with the regional countries’. He said special price control committees had been formed by the provincial government to control undue profiteering, adding that the Punjab government would ensure all steps to facilitate people during the holy month of Ramazan.

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