From ‘don’t sell Pakistan’ to ‘expired politicians’, NA sees another ‘usual' session

By: News Desk
Published: 08:04 PM, 30 Dec, 2021
From ‘don’t sell Pakistan’ to ‘expired politicians’, NA sees another ‘usual' session
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The recently held National Assembly session Thursday, where the incumbent government presented its mini budget, was business as usual as the ruckus in the lower house has become a norm in recent times.

The opposition goes all gun blazing in the assembly sessions and the treasury benches also match fire by fire that leads to ruckus and physical brawls in the assembly.

However, it’s always an interesting show that entertains the masses and makes all the diehard fans of the respective parties joyful due to the point-scoring ability of their leaders.

The absence of all the main opposition leaders, as well as PM Imran Khan (a constant absentee from parliament), in the session, no-show of most of the opposition members during the voting process and treasury benches attempt to bulldoze the proceedings in their favour showed how much serious the representatives of the masses are. And in the end, it is always the masses who have to bite the dust and are on the losing side and there is always a win-win situation for the politicians.

The same was the case in this session as opposition members attacked the treasury benches with all kinds of accusations and treasury benches responded in kind as both sides continue to wash the dirty linen in the open. However, both sides failed to produce any rationale or discuss at length the proposed mini-budget and its impact. And in the end, the session has to be adjourned due to the lack of quorum.

As Tarin presented the bills opposition members chanted slogans and gathered before the chair.

The protest intensified when the government presented several ordinances for approval. The opposition members claimed that the ordinances had already expired or lapsed after completing the 120-day period and they could not be presented for the approval under the Constitution. The treasury benches resorted to a tit-for-tat response. Pakistan Peoples Party’s Shagufta Jamani and PTI’s Ghazal Saifi came to blows on the floor of the house.

The fiercest head-to-head verbal brawl was witnessed between PML-N’s Khawaja Asif and PTI’s Asad Umar.

In a passionate speech, PML-N’s Khawaja Asif said that the government was “selling” the country’s economic sovereignty. He claimed the people were being muzzled.

"You're giving SBP's control to IMF. Please have mercy on the people of Pakistan. Don't sell Pakistan. You allowed people to loot the country for three years," he said, making a reference to the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Amendment Bill 2021 — another legislation needed to ensure the disbursement of $1b tranche by the IMF.

Khawaja Asif said the government had violated the Constitution by presenting an ordinance that had already lapsed and expired.

He urged the House to not let Pakistan surrender its sovereignty.

"Surrendering Pakistan's economic sovereignty is more dangerous than that of the surrender in 1971," he said while referring to the East Pakistan debacle.

He said the whole nation was ashamed of what was happening in the parliament.

Highlighting the promises made by the PTI leaders, he said that the government has been lying to the people for the last three years and recent local body elections in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are proof of this.

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs Dr Babar Awan responded that the assembly proceedings were being carried out under the prescribed rules and procedures. The speaker also ruled that the resolution for extension in the election amendment ordinance was legitimate.

Planning Minister Asad Umar responded to Khawaja Asif and blasted the opposition for talking about the national security after taking up residence in the Gulf countries on work permits which declared them, what he said, “dhobi and nai” (washermen and barbers).

Umar said that international bodies have praised Pakistan’s performance to contain Covid-19.

Talking about the “expired” ordinances, he said that only the speaker could tell if the ordinances had expired or not, but “I want to ask if we must hear the speeches from these expired politicians.”

He said the opposition had been trying to "scare the nation" by making a hue and cry over the SBP amendment bill.

"The difference between them and us is that when they work to curb dengue, they have to advertise about it themselves. But when we work to curb Covid-19," international forums praise the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf-led government, Umar added.

Reacting to Asif's remarks about surrendering the sovereignty of Pakistan, he said: "A Pakistani leader is speaking about surrendering the country's sovereignty. I call that shameful."

He also lambasted the opposition for criticising the government over national security. "They invited Modi to their house," he said.

PPP member and former Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf said that the way ordinances were being approved through simple resolutions had dented the reputation of Parliament.

"I had said that it will make life more difficult for the people of Pakistan, but the chair had dismissed my concerns," Ashraf said. "When, in fact, that was the time for the opposition to speak on the matter."

He further complained that when the bill was presented today, even then the opposition was not being heard.

He also claimed that Asad Umar had failed to answer questions posed by Khawaja Asif.

He urged the speaker to reject all the proceedings held on Thursday which, he claimed, had bulldozed the bills through the house.

The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Amendment Bill 2021 was also presented in the House, which was referred to the relevant standing committee for necessary vetting.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said the opposition had the right to present its point of view, however, "the government's job is to put forth facts before people".

As Qureshi continued to speak, the opposition members pointed towards an incomplete quorum in the House. Responding to the opposition's objection, the speaker adjourned the session till Dec 31.

Categories : Pakistan