ISLAMABAD: Taking part in the budget debate, the opposition members in the National Assembly Tuesday advised the government to stop victimising political opponents and focus on improvement of national economy.
Shazia Marri of PPP expressed hope that the government would stop pointing a finger at the opposition and would provide relief to the masses. She also came down hard on the government for keeping Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, Editor-in-Chief of Jang Group, in detention.
“It is necessary to mention that the government is also making Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman its target of victimisation,” Shazia said. She said the PTI government, which made hollow claims and false promises, had disappointed the masses with its performance.
She asked the ministers to respond to the criticism of opposition members but should not point a finger at them. “You cannot provide relief to the masses while pointing a finger at the opposition members,” she said, adding that the PTI leaders had learnt nothing while sitting on the opposition benches for five years.
Demanding withdrawal of the 10th NFC award’s notification, Shazia asked the federal government not to shift its failures to the provincial government. The PML-N MNA Kheal Das Kohistani has said the Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman is being punished for upholding freedom of expression.
The lawmaker said in the National Assembly that the freedom of expression is under curbs under the sitting rulers and human rights are being violated. He said the government was first putting politicians in jails and now it has turned its guns towards the media.
He said Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman is being punished for not sacking independent journalists like Ansar Abbasi, Saleem Safi, Arshid Waheed Chaudhry, Umar Cheema, Shahzeb Khanzada and others. He said when the leading media persons will be sacked and newspapers will be censored then who will published the truth.
The PML-N MNA Ardat Sharif said Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman has been arrested on the inquiry stage of a 34-year-old case. He said the prime minister used to collect donations with Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman during flood and now he has been arrested.
Another PML-N MNA Hamid Hameed said Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman is behind the bars for independent reporting. MNA Waheed Alam said the arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman is a worst attack on freedom of expression. He said the anchorpersons reporting on incompetence of the government are on target of the government.
MNA Ayesha Rajab said the economy of the country is in tatters because the government is busy in suppressing the media. MNA Dr Nisar Cheema said the media is in chains under the current government as editor-in-chief of the largest media group is behind the bars.
Speaker Asad Qaiser meanwhile took a serious notice of vulgar language used by Abdul Qadir Patel of PPP and Attaullah Khan of PTI in the House on Monday.
“Some parliamentarians used such language, which insulted the whole house,” he said.
Asad pointed out that under Rules 20 and 21, he enjoyed powers to ask any member to leave the House or suspend his membership for the whole session.
Asad made it clear that as custodian he would order a strict action against any member even if he/she belonged to the government if he/she indulged in use of vulgar language.
The Speaker pointed out that the PPP member Abdul Qadir Patel in the past also used unparliamentary and vulgar language on floor of the House.
“I will take action against him after going through the video clips,” he said.
On that, PPP MNA Naveed Qamar said the Speaker had singled out the opposition member whereas the PTI member was also involved in giving indecent remarks.
MQM’s Osama Qadri, who returned to the House after recovering from COVID-19, demanded that the government should increase the salaries and pension of the government employees.
He complained that just Rs250 million had been reserved for Karachi whereas the province earned Rs110 billion from the Sindh capital out of total income of Rs235 billion. He observed that some clauses of the 18th Amendment could weaken the federation.
Maulana Mahmood Shah of JUI-F said if rains, according to one of PTI members, were due to Imran Khan, then the credit for COVID-19 and locust attack should also be given to him.
Referring to a statement of Minister of State for Climate Change Zartaj when she talked about development funds in her constituencies, the JUI-F member said the government should know that the opposition members were also voted by people to the House.
Sajid Toori said Fata reforms would be incomplete unless the tribal areas were also given share in the NFC award. He said the ex-Fata areas should be given Rs140 billion from the NFC award otherwise it would not be possible to continue the development process there.
MQM parliamentarian Iqbal Muhammad Ali Khan asked the opposition leaders to announce to donate their looted money to the national exchequer as the economy was already in bad shape due to spread of COVID-19.
“We will request the prime minister that he should pardon the opposition leaders once they contribute their looted money to the national exchequer,” he said. He pointed out that the government had distributed funds to deserved people under the Ehsaas programme in a transparent manner whereas the Sindh government swallowed funds of Benazir Income Supports Programme.
The MQM parliamentarian also expressed hope that the salaries of government employees would be increased in the budget to be approved by Parliament. Chaudhry Abid Raza of PML-N advised the government to review its two performance saying that the rulers did nothing except for placing plaques on projects initiated by the past government.
“Those who brought the present government to power did so for the sake of their blind opposition to the PPP and PML-N,” he said.
PML-N MNA Chaudhry Nisar Cheema said it was late Zulfikar Ali Bhutto who laid foundation of the country’s security and Nawaz Sharif completed his mission.
He said contrary to the failures of the incumbent government, it was Nawaz Sharif who initiated the mega project of CPEC, gathered the nation after terror attack on the APS Peshawar and rid the nation of power load shedding.
PTI MNA Imran Khattak said the government deserved appreciation for presenting an ideal budget when the world’s economy was facing crisis. “The world’s economy is facing crisis while Pakistan also stands among the affected countries,” he said.
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