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ISLAMABAD: The opposition and treasury members came face to face in the National Assembly, on Tuesday, as the treasury members resorted to sloganeering and whistle-blowing the moment opposition leader Shehbaz Sharif took the floor, leaving NA Speaker with no option but to adjourn the House.

The House witnessed another day of rumpus, as the opposition and treasury members threw budget documents on each other, which led to suspension of the proceedings on two consecutive occasions.

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) MNA, Maleeka Bokhari, was knocked to the ground after she was hit by a booklet thrown by opposition MPs on treasury as both sides hit each other with heavy booklets of budget document placed on their desks.

Soon after Sharif started his speech on budget, the PML-N lawmakers formed a circle around him in order to protect him from treasury members who at one stage wanted to surround his desk.

Shehbaz faced growing taunts and jeers of treasury members as he took aim at the government.

He asks: “Imran Khan Niazi promised 10 million jobs. Where are those jobs? Where is the $300 billion that was supposed to be brought back to the country from abroad?”

He said that PM Imran Khan's claims of eliminating corruption from Pakistan were hollow as he did nothing for the relief of people, despite passage of nearly three years.

“Pakistan is suffering from the worst form of corruption today,” he said, adding that “no act of posting or transferring someone these days is done without an element of corruption these days”.

He lambasted the government's budget, saying that it had failed to provide relief to the masses amid spiraling unemployment and inflation.

Speaker Asad Qaiser kept interjecting, requesting the lawmakers on the treasury benches to refrain from shouting, while the leader of the opposition kept speaking.

Sharif said that Rs1,200 billion Covid-19 package was also not spent judiciously, adding that here was a fiscal deficit of Rs10,000 billion as Rs13,000 billion was borrowed by the government during the last three years.

He said that the overall size for the economy was $313 billion, which has been reduced to $246 billion due to “incompetence of the ruling PTI,” adding that “inflation is skyrocketing while employment is increasing day by day”.

Paying little or no attention to the rumpus inside the house, the Opposition leader who was wearing noise-cancelling headphones to drown out the noise continued his speech.

"They accuse us of generating useless power. If that is the case, why are people suffering from load-shedding these days?"

He said that during the government of his brother, Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan had set up power plants across the country and ended the menace of load-shedding.

He said the country was heading towards economic prosperity then, whereas now, everything was on the decline, even the per capita income.

Sharif said that the finance minister’s claim that no tax is being imposed but Rs383 billion new taxes are going to be imposed, adding taxes on food items, sugar, milk, etc., are also being imposed.

“We want to know about the conditionalities put forth by the IMF [International Monetary Fund],” he added. "If the country has seen growth, have only the elite and those residing in the palaces of Bani Gala availed that prosperity?" the Opposition leader asked.

The PML-N president said poor people were "starving to death" in the country.

Taking a jibe at the prime minister, Sharif said that he wished those, who cited the example of Riyasat-e-Madina, would pay heed to the "dismal state of the widows, orphans and the destitute".

He went on to say that the PTI had also made a promise to bring back $300 billion from abroad but it completely failed to honour its promises that it had made with the nation.

Sharif claimed that the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ratio was 5.8 percent in 2018 during the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz government, “which has plunged to -0.5 per cent” due to the failure of the present government.

He alleged that over 20 million people had gone below the poverty line due to the wrong policies of the government. The sufferings of the government employees had also increased, he added.

As Sharif spoke, tempers rose when the treasury and the Opposition lawmakers came face to face. The special assistant to the prime minister on the Capital Development Authority (CDA) affairs Ali Nawaz Awan and other members from the PML-N used filthy language against each other besides throwing budget documents at each other.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021


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