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June 16, 2021

Chaos rules NA session during Shehbaz’s speech

ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly proceedings witnessed shameful scenes on Tuesday: the ministers and parliamentarians were seen creating ruckus, using filthy language, whistling and attacking each other with budget books during the speech of the opposition leader on the federal budget.

Speaker Asad Qaisar, after suspending the proceedings for the fourth time, also sought security staff from the Senate secretariat to control the situation, but the sergeants-at-arms also failed to calm down the protesting parliamentarians.

During the uproar, one of the members from the treasury benches threw a book towards Shehbaz Sharif, which fell on dais in front of him. The members from two sides came close to physical brawl in front of the speaker’s chair, but he could do nothing except for making requests and suspending proceedings time and again.

The security staff of the National Assembly also made a protective circle around the opposition leader and pushed back the government members, who were trying to move towards him.The opposition members also encircled chair of Shehbaz Sharif to prevent him from any attack.

In the meantime, one of security staffers, Asif Kiani was slightly injured when a book hit him close to his eye. The members from two sides were also seen hitting each other with books and using abusive language. Some Government members were seen standing on their seats, raising slogans and throwing books.

A video which shows Ali Nawaz Awan of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) abusing an opponent, also went viral on the social media. He was elected in bye-elections on a seat vacated by Imran Khan from the federal capital.

However, the PTI member said it was Shaikh Rohail Asghar of the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PMLN) who abused him first. Some government members stood on their seats while whistling and throwing books towards the opposition benches.

Speaker Asad Qaisar also took notice of the hooliganism in the National Assembly. “The non-parliamentary attitude adopted by members from the government and the opposition benches and objectionable language used by them is condemnable and disappointing,” the speaker said.

He said following an investigation, the members who used objectionable language would not be allowed to enter the House on Wednesday. The PML-N parliamentarian Ahsan Iqbal said it was a black day in parliamentary history of Pakistan. “Treasury benches including ministers, on orders by prime minister, indulged in hooliganism to disrupt speech of the opposition leader,” he said.

He said what demonstrated in the House showed complete moral and democratic bankruptcy of the PTI government. Imran Khan wants to run the House on his whims, which was not possible. “It is most condemnable act of the PTI MNAs,” he added.

Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry tweeted that uproar began after the PML-N member Ali Gohar Baloch raised some slogans. He said the PML-N members used abusive language which infuriated young PTI parliamentarians.

Minister of State for Information Farrukh Habib said the female PTI member, Malaika Bokhari was injured when a book thrown by an opposition member hit her face. The PTI members, led by cabinet members Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Shafqat Mahmood, Fawad Chaudhry, Ali Amin Gandapur and others raised slogans of 'Chor Chor' [thief]. The opposition members responded with 'Donkey Raja Ki Sarkar Naheen Chalay Gi' [Government led by a donkey would not run].

Taking the floor amid uproar, Shehbaz Sharif said the PML-N government in 2018 left the growth rate at 5.8%, which the incumbent regime brought to record low of 0.5%. He said the PTI leadership, which had claimed to give jobs to 10 million people, rendered another five million as jobless, taking the unemployment rate to15%. He claimed that another 20 million people had gone below the poverty level.

At the outset of his speech, the opposition leader held Speaker Asad Qaisar responsible for disruption in his speech. He said it also happened for the first time that the government members created uproar during speech of the opposition leader. "They will have to face consequences for what they did yesterday," he said.

Shehbaz said billions of rupees were looted by the ‘atta’ and sugar mafia, which resulted in price-hike of these two commodities to over Rs70 and Rs100 per kilogram, respectively.

He said the government allowed import of sugar and huge subsidy was given on that count. He said the PTI government so far had procured over Rs13,000 billion loans, while the currency was also devalued.

He said that increase in poverty, unemployment and economic disaster was visible on every page of finance minister's budget speech. He said that it was the prime minister who claimed that no new taxes would be imposed. "But to the contrary, it has been proposed to collect additional Rs383 billion taxes," he said.

He also criticised the government for proposing 17% GST on dairy products including milk and yogurt. He pointed out that the PTI government imposed unprecedented indirect taxes.

Shehbaz also asked Imran Khan to take the House into confidence on the IMF programme and what role external powers were playing in this connection.

He regretted that seat of Imran Khan in the House was always empty whenever it comes to discussing issues like budget, Kashmir and Palestine. Referring to container politics of the PTI, he recalled that over four-month sit-in of the PTI in 2014 had disrupted Chinese president’s visit.

Shehbaz also talked about PML-N government’s health projects with creation of heart, kidney and burn centres and mobile hospitals while the incumbent government allowed increase in prices of medicines.

He recalled the PML-N government introduced health card, but the present regime was taking the credit for it as they were doing in case of other projects.

Meanwhile, the Jamaat-e-Islami Ameer Sirajul Haq also expressed concern over the National Assembly ruckus during the important budget session, saying the incident had proved the ruling elite could never become serious to address the plight of masses.

“Entire nation watched the scenes of physical attacks, whistling and use of abusive language at assembly floor. The democracy has been turned into a joke in Pakistan,” he said while addressing a book-launching ceremony on Tuesday.