Did the opposition walk into govt’s trap?

By: Ashraf Mumtaz      Published: 04:21 PM, 16 Jun, 2021
Did the opposition walk into govt’s trap?
Tuesday's rowdyism in the National Assembly.

The ‘honourable’ National Assembly’s Tuesday (June 15) fighting and abusing scenes splashed by the media have caused the Islamic republic tremendous humiliation at the international level and exposed the civility and decency of the people who are supposed to be the role models for their constituents.

Still more shameful is the fact that the treasury as well as the opposition benches are defending their respective conducts, and, as expected, are pinning the blame for turning the house into a battleground on the rivals. No remorse has been expressed by either side, an attitude reflective of the stubbornness of our political parties. Instead. A firm resolve has been expressed by both sides to pay the rival in the same coin – even in the future. 

The trouble on Tuesday was started by some of the prime minister’s loyalists when opposition leader Shehbaz Sharif resumed his unfinished speech on the new fiscal’s budget. His speech remained inconclusive even a day before for similar reasons.

The opposition and treasury members scuffled with each other and used the voluminous budget documents and books as ‘rockets’ when the latter continued their noisy protest to disrupt the speech. 

Speaker Asad Qaiser suspended the proceedings of the house three times when the treasury members, led by some of the senior ministers who had come directly to the house after attending the weekly cabinet meeting, turned a deaf ear to the peace and tranquility calls coming from the custodian of the house and kept on sloganeering, whistling and desk-thumping. 

When an undeterred Shehbaz Sharif continued his speech, some of the treasury members were seen advancing towards the opposition benches, but they were prevented by the security staff. At this stage, the treasury members started throwing the books and documents at the opposition members, who also responded in the same coin. Some of the members, including Ali Nawaz Awan, were seen and heard using abusive and filthy language. Many members from both sides raised slogans while standing on their chairs. 

The treasury members who were in the forefront in creating disturbance in the house were the PTI MNAs from Karachi, including Faheem Khan, and Ali Nawaz Awan and Minister for Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan Ali Amin Gandapur.  

According to media reports, all this happened in the presence of a number of senior cabinet members like Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Asad Umer, Shafqat Mahmood, Fawad Chaudhry, Ali Muhammad Khan, Ali Amin Gandapur, Murad Saeed and Shireen Mazari, who not only made no attempt to stop their protesting members, but also participated and encouraged them to create rumpus, thus establishing that it was the well-considered policy of the ruling party to not allow the opposition leader to deliver the budget speech. 

Members of the other opposition party - PPP, including its chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, remained seated and watched the action-filled proceedings. 

As a matter of principle, no legislator should be paid salary or allowances for the current session because they only wasted the valuable time of the nation and brought only a bad name to the country. In case they did receive, the same would not be a “Halal” income. 

If the outcome of the session is analyzed, the opposition appears to be a loser.  

It was in the interest of the ruling party that negative aspects of the budget should not come to light. And this target could be achieved only if a situation was created to make it impossible for any opposition legislator to assail the budget on any pretext. 

In this situation, it was for the visionary opposition leaders to smell the plan and thwart it by any means. They lost tempers and thus became part of a plan which served only the interests of the ruling PTI. 

Now, the debate on the budget is supposed to complete in 40 hours. 

The ruling party laid a trap and the opposition walked into it.  

The time that should have been spent on highlighting the wrong priorities, questionable allocations for various sectors, boastful claims and unachievable targets set for the new fiscal year has been wasted in fights, mudslinging. 

According to the latest order issued by the NA speaker, the entry of seven leaders, both from the ruling party and opposition, has been banned in the house till further orders.