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ISLAMABAD: After having failed to block the passage of Finance Bill 2020-21, the opposition parties in National Assembly on Monday demanded resignation of Prime Minister Imran Khan for poor handling of economy and Covid-19 pandemic in the country.

Speaking on the floor of the House, Pakistan People's Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) parliamentary leader in National Assembly Khawaja Asif were unanimous in calling for the prime minister's resignation.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Shah Mehmood Qureshi retaliated in the same tone and said: "Imran Khan is enjoying the confidence of the House".

Categorically rejecting the opposition's demand seeking resignation of the prime minister, he said that they were building castles in the air.

The minister requested the Speaker to place the Finance Bill 2020-21 for voting before the House so that it would be clear who is enjoying the majority in the National Assembly.

"I would request the chair to immediately put the bill for voting so that everything will be crystal clear and the opposition will get to know about its strength," he maintained.

He reiterated, "We stand by the ideology of Imran Khan. We are thankful to the allies and there would be no compromise on the ideology."

In response to the statement of Khawaja Asif, who claimed the government has forced all the members who are Covid-19 positive to attend the House, Qureshi said that there is no truth in that rumours as we are responsible people.

Earlier, speaking on the floor of the house, Bilawal said that the prime minister has two options: either he [PM] should apologize to the nation or go home.

About the prime minister's speech in the NA, in which he dubbed al-slain Qaeda leader Osama bin laden 'martyr', Bilawal questioned why the prime minister is hesitant to call his mother Benazir Bhutto, who fought against the terrorists, a 'martyr', but the man [Osama] who martyred thousands of our troops, children, civilians, is martyred for him (Prime Minister).

In an obvious reference to the prime minister's speech for calling Osama a 'martyr', he continued, "The friend of terrorists is a traitor and a coward", but NA Speaker Asad Qaiser expunged his remarks, prompting him to question: "you're not bothered about the speech of the PM, and you don't care about our martyrs".

The PPP chairman also raised the fake license scandal of PIA pilots, saying 'it is quite shameful as the aviation minister [Ghulam Sarwar Khan] who himself kept defending his 'fake' degree, but in order to hush up his own mistakes, is targeting lower-scale employees and pilots and holding them responsible for everything".

"The PM took notice of medicine, wheat, sugar and masks price hike and then the prices of these things went upper and upper so he should put himself in quarantine and stop taking notices so that the poor could be saved from dearness," he advised.

The leader of PML-N Khawaja Asif said the government still has chance to provide relief to the masses, adding that increase in the prices of petroleum products is quite shameful.

Responding to the points of PML-N leader Khawaja Asif regarding PIA, Minister for Aviation Ghulam Sarwar Khan said the mandate of the present government is to clean the mess left by the previous governments. He regretted that the previous governments destroyed the institutions in the name of democracy.

He said it was on the directions of the Supreme Court that data of PIA employees inducted over the last ten years was scrutinized. He said the inquiry proved political appointments were made in the national flag carrier in complete violation of merit. He said action will be taken against fake degree holders.

Minister for Communications Murad Saeed said Pakistan will move forward on the path of development under the dynamic leadership of Prime Minister Imran Khan.

He rejected the remarks passed by PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari against the coronavirus strategy of the government. He said the European countries are now also adopting smart lockdown policy of the prime minister.

The minister said the present government gave the historic Ehsaas Programme and enhanced its allocations to over two hundred billion rupees. He said our Sehat Insaf card scheme is providing free of cost medical treatment to the people.

The House turned into a war zone on the last day of the Budget debate as Khawaja Asif of PML-N and Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry literally came to blows and indulged in a slug-fest.

Interrupting Asif during his speech, the Chadhary demanded an apology from PML-N stalwart after he accused the government of being hand in glove with the petroleum and sugar mafia in the country and said he would not be able to go to his constituency if he started spilling the beans.

"If I started spilling the beans against him [Fawad], it would be difficult for him to sit in the House," retorted Asif.

The House also witnessed a token walkout by opposition lawmakers from the house when the floor was given to Murad Saeed for responding to Bilawal.

Maulana Asadur Rehman of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI) said that the House should also hold a debate on who is a murderer and who is martyred, adding this is for sure that PM Imran Khan is the 'murderer of democracy and economy'.

"My father [Fazlur Rehman] served as chairman Parliamentary Committee on Kashmir for ten years, and I demand the details of the expenditures incurred during those years, should be laid before the House," he added.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020