ISLAMABAD: As the government successfully passed the budget for 2021-22 without any hindrance from the allied political parties, the opposition, on Tuesday, strongly protested, accusing it of passing the budget through force. From Pakistan People's Party (PPP), 54 out of 56 members were present in the House, while the two members could not come to the House as they had been tested positive for Covid-19.
From Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), out of total 84 MNAs, only 14 turned up in the House. The ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief whip in the National Assembly, Amir Dogar, said that 172 MNAs were present, when the voting took place and four more arrived later due to which their votes could not be counted.
"The parliament, once more, expressed its faith in the prime minister [Imran Khan] through a heavy majority," he added.
Meanwhile, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry questioned the absence of opposition leader in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif in the crucial session, saying it seems that the power crisis within the PML-N has worsened.
"The tussle between Maryam Nawaz and Shehbaz Sharif is gaining momentum and Sharif's absence is a testimony what's going on within the PML-N," he added.
He said that the budget does not include any new taxes and has an increase in salaries, besides loans for the youth. He said that Prime Minister Imran Khan will deliver a speech in the parliament today [Wednesday].
Responding to criticism over Sharif's absence from Tuesday's session, the PML-N general secretary, Ahsan Iqbal, said that he could not attend the session due to passing away of his cousin. Contrary to Chaudhry's observations, Iqbal added, the vast majority of the PML-N members were in attendance, adding six members of the PTI were not in attendance, noting that 172 had come.
Iqbal said that the opposition, effectively, highlighted the budget's shortcomings.
"This was the first budget in Pakistan's history in which the government was forced to take a U-turn," he remarked.
PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, while speaking to the media outside Parliament House, regretted that the opposition's full strength was not in attendance.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021