ISLAMABAD: The government came under severe criticism in the National Assembly on Monday for unbridled inflation, hike in petroleum and electricity prices, as Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif termed the three-year rule of ruling PTI a glaring example of "exploitation, mismanagement and incompetence".
The opposition members attended the National Assembly session, while wearing black ribbon to lodge their protest against skyrocketing inflation particularly the recent Rs10 increase in petroleum products.
Taking the floor, Sharif accused the government of economically destroying the country and exploiting the people under the pretext of building the country at the patterns of "State of Madina" - a catchy slogan being fully cashed in on by Prime Minister Imran Khan to exploit the innocent masses.
The opposition leader said the prices of edible items are changing so rapidly that everyday items rise exponentially and money becomes worthless, virtually overnight or even in the course of a working day.
In the same breath, he continued that "every child in the country is bearing witness to the worst government in the last 74 years".
He said "the man who is in-charge of the country never exhausts by talking about the 'State of Madina', but the way he made life of a common man miserable, through his flawed economic policies, price hike, unemployment, etc, show, he is certainly exploiting the masses to prolong his rule."
"As against present-day Pakistan under PTI's rule, no one ever slept hungry in Riyasat-e-Madinah, exemplary justice prevailed there, and everyone was given their due rights, but in a country like ours run by Imran Khan, it's completely the opposite," he lamented.
He came down hard on the government and said the electricity rate had been increased by Rs1.5 per unit, while the price of petroleum products had also gone up within a week time, which is an indication the country is headed towards complete disaster.
He said that price of ghee had been increased by Rs49 and cooking oil Rs110, as he lamented that "what could be crueler than depriving the poor of food".
Sharif asked the government that how could a person who earns Rs20,000 a month afford electricity bills worth Rs10,000, as he claimed that such a situation had not arisen since Pakistan's creation. "To fulfill the IMF's [International Monetary Fund] conditions they took every measure [...] but despite that, I have heard reports that the IMF is still not satisfied and is trying to impose further conditions," he claimed.
He asked whether there would be an end to this "destruction or not", as he said the incumbent government wanted to leave the country on the path to complete destruction.
Sharif recalled Prime Minister Imran Khan that he had - before coming into power - said that if the rupee's value fell against the dollar, the prime minister was a thief. "If the price of medicines has risen by 200 percent, then what should we call this government...if the US dollar gains 40 percent against the rupee, then what should we call this government," he added.
"Imported inflation is leading to starvation and suicide...the country's crops might be affected due to bad weather conditions, but Pakistan usually has wheat and other commodities in abundance," he added.
He said there were reports of the government importing millions of tonnes of sugar, while the people were forced to line up for purchasing the commodity. "The government has also deprived the people of wheat," he added.
Amid anti-government sloganeering, while responding to the criticism by opposition leader, Federal Minister for Communications Murad Saeed said that Imran Khan was the first prime minister who was striving to make the country an exemplary country like the "State of Madina". But unlike Prime Minister Imran Khan, he added, people like Shehbaz Sharif claimed to be liberals during their visits to the US in the past and accusing Imran Khan of being too religious, and now they were trying to be Islamic like no one else, which was pathetic.
With this, Khurram-Dastgir Khan and Murtaza Javed Abbasi of PML-N pointed out the quorum. After the counting, the house was not in order which forced the NA Speaker, Asad Qaiser, to adjourn the house till Wednesday at 4pm.
Earlier, State Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan moved a motion to discuss the Uswa-e-Hasana of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), which was adopted by the house.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021